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 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 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Schneider, Maria – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0018 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Keating, Zoe et al. – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0056 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: SGA (Songwriters Guild of America) – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0038 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: MusicAnswers – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0039 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Muddiman, Helene (pt. 1) – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0040 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Muddiman, Helene (pt. 2) – Reply Comments

DOCUMENT ID:    COLC-2018-0011-0041 (
POSTED DATE:    04/23/2019
DOCUMENT TITLE: Muddiman, Helene (pt. 3) – Reply Comments


Must Read by @MarcHogen: Congress Is Making Headway on a Bill to Modernize How [Songwriters] Are Paid

[Editor Charlie sez:  Marc Hogen, Senior Staff Writer at Pitchfork, takes a detailed and objective look at the Music Modernization Act and makes some critical recommendations for amendments to the MMA.  This is a must-read for all songwriters wanting to better understand the nuances of the legislation.]

In December, Collins introduced the Music Modernization Act(MMA), a 109-page piece of legislation he claims “would literally usher copyright laws into the 21st century.” A Senate version followed a month later. Born from a year of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the proposed law has bipartisan support and—unusual for music-related efforts in Congress—endorsements by lobbying groups representing a broad swath of the industry, from record labels and publishers to streaming services and FM broadcasters. (Some of the bill’s advocates haveargued that it should pass because this time, for once, it could pass.) Provisions of Collins’ bill are expected to be included as part of a package that the Grammys’ policy chief has expressed “very high confidence” will make it onto President Donald Trump’s desk sometime this year….

Though lawmakers are describing the MMA as a “consensus bill,” most of that consensus appears to have been between lobbyists at the negotiating table. While publishing and record-label trade groups advocating for the MMA claim they have cosigns from more than 26,000 songwriters, some in the industry question how much these survey respondents were really told about the nitty gritty. This bill simply shouldn’t be crammed through before the rest of the music community understands what it is and offers ways to improve it. And it’s not just that working-class musicians haven’t been invited to the table—it’s also that the biggest artist advocates they could find are folks like Dionne Warwick and Steven Tyler, neither exactly representative of where songwriting is headed and where royalties should follow….

This alphabet soup of administration would be a lot simpler than the current system, but the details matter. As proposed, the streaming services would fund the MLC, and a board of publishers and songwriters would oversee it. At last (unofficial) count, the board would consist of 10 publishers and only four songwriters. In an open letter, songwriter and big-band leader Maria Schneider has called for an equal, 50-50 split between publishers and songwriters, along with assurance that songwriters would be able to choose their own board representatives. She has a point, and Congress should make the change.

Read the post on Pitchfork.


Guest Post by @schneidermaria: An Open Letter to David Israelite of the NMPA, and Anyone Interested in the Music Modernization Act — The Trichordist

[Editor Charlie sez:  Here’s a guest post by 5-time Grammy winner Maria Schneider on the Trichordist that she says is in response to a letter from National Music Publishers Association head David Israelite about her critique of the Music Modernization Act that appeared on MusicTechPolicy and ARW.]

Dear Mr. Israelite, I received your point-by-point response that you apparently shared with legislators and interested persons in response to my 10-point critique of the MMA. Thank you for your perspective. Perspective is important. But in my opinion, your letter contains misdirection, many important omissions, and inaccuracies. I explain this below, and in much greater […]

via Guest Post by @schneidermaria: An Open Letter to David Israelite of the NMPA, and Anyone Interested in the Music Modernization Act — The Trichordist

@schneidermaria: The Music Modernization Act – The Devil is in the Details

[Editor Charlie sez: A spectacular and detailed critique of the Music Modernization Act by Maria Schneider the five-time GRAMMY-winning composer and bandleader.]

When it comes to the newly introduced bill called the Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”), there’s good news and bad news.

First, I want to offer some good news.  Many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle appear to be finally waking up to the fact that, in the absence of updated copyright laws, present-day technologies are destroying the livelihoods of music creators, especially workaday creators.  Our elected leaders recognize that changes in the law need to be made.  I think I speak for most music creators in saying, we are very grateful for that.  We are grateful, because the big data companies (like Spotify and YouTube) and the big publishing/record companies (like Sony/Warner/Universal, who have equity in Spotify) have been systematically destroying the ability of most workaday music creators/musicians to make a living.  So, there’s a new bill in the works, that on its face, might seem good – good enough that many are touting it.  It would insure that a stream pays a mechanical.  In theory, that would indeed be great news, and many of our lawmakers, and many in our industry have initially backed this bill.

But now, I need to report the bad news.  The MMA was drafted primarily by lobbyists for the huge corporations that control the music industry.  The MMA is over 100 pages long, and is “Exhibit A” for why people hate lobbyists and lawyers so much.  When you dig into the carefully worded text (which I now have), it becomes very clear that the MMA is the result of cunning drafting that even further protects and insulates the all-powerful publishers and the big data companies.  They’ve paved their own 4-lane highway to drive their Mack trucks over music creators yet again.

Let’s not forget that the copyright rights of all creators, workaday and hugely successful, are so important, that the drafters of the Constitution protected them right in the Constitution itself.  But as I’ll explain in detail below, the MMA basically “outsources” the management of music copyright rights to two separate, “to-be-created” private corporations that will be entirely controlled by these very all-powerful industry players.  That’s like outsourcing the environmental protection from oil spills to a private corporation controlled by BP and Exxon.

Here’s the outsourcing scheme the lobbyists driving the MMA have created: a newly-formed Corporation A will administer the payment of a streaming mechanical royalty that will be implemented, and Corporation B will essentially serve as the tax collector, seeking “assessments” from industry to pay for Corporation A’s activities.  Even if it’s high time for a streaming mechanical, and if the outsourcing of something so important as the management of music copyright must be done, it should be done in a “bullet proof” manner, where the public’s interests, and music creators’ rights, are fully and carefully protected.

Read the post on MusicTechPolicy

@schneidermaria: Lyor Cohen Takes the Cake by Joining the Google Empire

You can be sure that in order to woo Lyor Cohen into the Google empire, they offered him a pretty nice slice of cake in the form of a piece of equity, decorated with incentives and salary perks.  Now, some people might be naïve enough to join YouTube in celebrating, imagining that Mr. Cohen is going to somehow show YouTube the light and magically deliver fairness for us.

But history is a good teacher, and there are three good reasons why his hire at Google is definitely no grounds for celebration:

Read the post on Hypebot

Guest Post by @schneidermaria: Content ID is Still Just Piracy in Disguise: An Open Letter to Rightsholders and a Music Industry Ready to Renegotiate with a Monster

Grammy-winning artist Maria Schneider lays bear the fallacies of YouTube’s Content ID and why YouTube violates the DMCA by interfering with “standard technical measures”.

via Guest Post by @schneidermaria: Content ID is Still Just Piracy in Disguise: An Open Letter to Rightsholders and a Music Industry Ready to Renegotiate with a Monster — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

@bradhill: Grammy-winning musician and congressional witness calls YouTube a criminal racketeer

Increasingly vocal critics of YouTube have a heroic new champion, not new to the cause, but willing to dramatically escalate its rhetoric.

Five-time Grammy-winner Maria Schneider is a board member of the Council of Music Creators and testified before Congress in 2014 about copyright infringement on YouTube. This past weekend Schneider released her response to the U.S. Copyright Office’s request for comments in its examination of the “safe harbor” clause of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Her comments are excoriating, but just a first act to the lacerating open letter to YouTube composed by Schneider.

Both documents are meaty, detailed, and blazingly critical. Together they comprise the harshest and most articulate indictment of a stance taken by an increasing number of music rights-holders who have been speaking out more this year than ever before against YouTube’s position in the music ecosystem….

“YouTube is guilty of criminal racketeering,” Maria Schneider declares in her open letter, published on the MUSIC TECHNOLOGY POLICY site. “YouTube has thoroughly twisted, contorted, and abused the original meaning of the outdated DMCA “safe harbor” to create a massive income redistribution scheme, where income is continually transferred from the pockets of musicians and creators of all types, and siphoned directly into their own pockets.”

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