NMPA CEO @davidisraelite: DOJ Decision a Disastrous Blow to Songwriters

PRESS RELEASE  
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.”

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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.

@impaulwilliams: Letter to ASCAP Members from Paul Williams on DOJ’s Unilateral Ruling Against Songwriters Around the World

Dear ASCAP Member,

Today, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released its official public statement regarding its review of the 75-year-old ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, which govern how songwriters and other music creators collectively license their work for public performance.

Unfortunately, rather than updating the antiquated framework of laws that govern how songwriters license their work and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the music industry, the DOJ chose to avoid a solution at this time and maintain the current decrees. The DOJ also announced that it plans to upend decades of industry practice by imposing new “full work” or “100% licensing” requirements on the PROs, despite very public opposition to this proposal.

ASCAP and BMI believe that the DOJ got this wrong, and we will not rest in our mission to fix the problems the DOJ decided not to solve. ASCAP and BMI together are pursuing a joint strategy to overturn the DOJ’s decision and modernize the outdated consent decree system. As part of this joint effort to generate change on two major fronts, ASCAP will lead the push for legislation in Congress to address the outdated consent decrees in favor of legislative solutions that make sense for the future of American music and BMI will challenge the DOJ’s decision on 100% licensing in federal rate court.  ASCAP and BMI are in full support of one another’s efforts.

More than a million American songwriters, composers and music publishers, like you, depend on collective licensing through ASCAP and BMI to earn a living. As an organization of music creators, we believe in a level playing field for all songwriters and composers, whether they are members of ASCAP or not. The DOJ decision requiring 100% licensing will create challenges for all music creators, whether they are represented by ASCAP, BMI, or by one of the smaller performing rights organizations.

Fixing this will be a long process, however, so I urge you to stay with us. ASCAP has strength in numbers. When we stick together and speak in a strong, united voice, we make an impact. We will need everyone to step up, stay focused and take action.

ASCAP is going to keep fighting on your behalf for the reforms songwriters need in order to succeed now and in the future. In fact, the DOJ opened the door for us to do just that.

In its public statement, the government clearly acknowledges that the PROs provide an invaluable service in the marketplace and that the consent decree system is not  working as well as it could.

The DOJ also conceded that a real, long-term resolution of the challenges songwriters face may require Congressional action. We wholeheartedly agree.

Fortunately, ASCAP has been working closely with other music industry stakeholders for some time to educate key members of Congress in both the House and the Senate about the unique challenges faced by music creators in the new music economy, and we already have a strong base of support in both parties. We will work closely with our allies to develop the framework for legislative proposals to be introduced in the next Congress.

We will have much more to share with you in the coming days, and we will let you know how you can help. ASCAP is proud to stand with songwriters and all music creators on the frontlines as we push for changes that will move our laws, our organization and our entire industry forward.

Sincerely,

Paul Williams

@IMPForum: Independent Music Publishers Forum Rejects DOJ 100% Licensing: “Nothing has been fixed but everything has been further broken”

IMPG Logo

Statement of IMPF Board of Directors on the U.S. DoJ’s 100% licensing scheme

How is it possible that the U.S. Department of Justice made a decision to not only leave the outdated consent decrees as they are, despite all the meetings, entreaties and ideas of the last two years, but added to its’ interpretation of those decrees in a clearly punitive and devastating move for small and indie music publishers and their songwriters?

In what was described by IMPF, the independent music publishers forum, as ‘an unmitigated disaster’, the decision only looks at the 100% licensing concept, which goes against common practise in the music industry, forcing, as it will, the CMOs to adopt ‘100% licensing’ despite the fact that the CMO may not actually represent all the owners of the musical work.

“This decision will result in confusion and chaos for everyone, from music publishers, to collective rights managements organisations around the world, and licensees and sadly and ultimately for songwriters, who will suffer the most, as this new system will lead to unfair prices that do not reflect the real value of their musical works” said Pierre Mossiat, President of the IMPF Board of Directors. “In short nothing has been fixed but everything has been further broken” he added.

IMPF also noted that the decision has implications for the way the U.S. does business abroad as it ignores international trade protocols, and may in fact be unlawful under WTO rules, as, applying this rule to copyrights originating in countries other than the U.S., when the rule is not recognised in those other countries, has profound ramifications.

IMPF will lend full support to ASCAP and BMI in the U.S. and to local and international music publishers as they figure out ways to address their options in a situation that was entirely avoidable, and until now has ever been an issue.

About IMPF
IMPF serves as a network and meeting place for independent music publishers. Its main objectives are to share experiences and best practices in music publishing; exchange information on the legal framework and music publishing environment; coordinate actions and support projects relevant to composers and music publishers; represent the interests of the independent music publishing community; and stimulate a favourable environment for artistic, cultural, linguistic and commercial diversitywww.impforum.org