President-Elect Donald J. Trump
Trump-Pence Transition Team
1717 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear President-Elect Trump:
As the association representing America’s songwriters and music publishers, we congratulate you on becoming the 45th President of the United States. As you have said many times, Washington needs to change, and one of the changes we hope comes from your Presidency is fairness for one of America’s most important small businesses: songwriters.
Giant technology companies have had a stronghold in Washington under the Obama Administration. Google, which owns the largest music streaming company in the world – YouTube – enjoyed a well-documented, close relationship with the White House, in particular.
Relationships like these led to an unfair and often hostile stance towards the creative community whose work has been systematically devalued by the very technology companies who rely on its product.
Such companies recently wrote to you requesting support for the Internet industry and its “innovation”, however we implore you to keep in mind that innovation is the first casualty of a lack of incentive. Once the songwriters, producers and publishers behind the music cannot make a living, not only will they suffer, but so will all of the technology and entertainment industries they fuel. For context, copyright industries contribute almost $2 trillion and account for almost 14.5% of the U.S. economy.
Like many small business owners in America, songwriters are under attack by overregulation and degradation by Washington bureaucracy. We are hopeful that your administration is a sign of change for them – and that under your leadership they will be able to profit from the work they produce in a fair and free-market way, as other property owners do.
Attached to this letter please find a short summary of priorities for the songwriting and copyright community. As always, we are ready to answer any questions and hope the door will finally be open to the unsung heroes of the music industry: the songwriters.
[Editor Charlie sez: NMPA CEO David Israelite on trying to deal with Facebook the massive infringer.]
Facebook was built on sharing.
One of the most commonly shared things on Facebook is music. Specifically, covers of songs. Fan versions of hits have produced some of today’s biggest stars, but — there’s one problem, Facebook hasn’t licensed with any of the publishers who represent the songwriters behind that music. With views in the millions, it’s time for Facebook to answer songwriters’ friend request and properly license their platform. Otherwise, it may find itself de-friended by the music industry.
Another outstanding podcast from the Future of What with Kill Rock Stars! President Portia Sabin talking with David Lowery, Chris Castle and NMPA CEO David Israelite about the U.S. Justice Department’s flip flop on 100% licensing.
Find out what “100% licensing” means and what songwriters can do about it, plus a discussion of the implications for international songwriters and the future of reciprocal licensing by PROs outside the US.
Here’s a link to Chris Castle’s Huffington Post article mentioned in the podcast, The Obama Administration Is Lame Ducking An Unworkable Burden on Songwriters: 4 Reasons Why It’s Bad Law; the MusicTechPolicy timeline on the Obama Administration’s songwriter czar Renata Hesse (mentioned by David Israelite) showing her curious connections to Google and the MIC Coalition: How Google Took Over the Justice Department Antitrust Division: Renata Hesse’s Timeline; BMI’s Premotion Letter to Judge Stanton re Obama Justice Department Ruling on 100% Licensing; and Andrew Orlowski’s post on The Register that ties Google to the “100% licensing” decision Google had Obama’s ear during antitrust probe
For Immediate Release: August 4, 2016
Media Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer
Washington, D.C. – NMPA President & CEO David Israelite today released the following statement in response to the Department of Justice’s decision regarding the ASCAP and BMI consent decree review.
“The Department of Justice (DoJ) has dealt a massive blow to America’s songwriters. After a two year review of the consent decrees that govern ASCAP and BMI, career lawyers who were never elected nor confirmed to their positions, led by a lawyer who previously represented Google, determined that songwriters should have even fewer rights, less control over their intellectual property and be treated more unfairly than they already are. The Department ignored the voices of copyright experts, members of Congress and thousands of songwriters and delivered a huge gift to tech companies who already benefit from egregiously low rates.
“The interpretation that the consent decrees demand that all works must be licensed on a 100 percent basis is both unprecedented and disastrous to the songwriting community. The decision represents a misunderstanding of copyright law and directly violates the legal guidance given by the Register of Copyright. The defiance displayed by these career antitrust lawyers in ignoring the legal opinion of the Register of Copyright is shocking.
“Washington bureaucrats should not be in the business of regulating music as they are neither capable of understanding or fixing the problems they’ve created. We are hopeful that through the legal process, conversations with those in Congress who understand copyright law, and ultimately the voices of those most affected, the creators themselves, we can find a path forward.”
About the NMPA: Founded in 1917, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is the trade association representing all American music publishers and their songwriting partners. The NMPA’s mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and songwriters in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights. Learn more at www.nmpa.org.