@SchneiderMaria Comes for YouTube With Class Action

We are thrilled to report that composer and big band leader Maria Schneider has sued YouTube in the prelude to a class action.  It’s worth pointing out that this is the first time since the Viacom case that the creative community has taken on the Leviathan of Mountain View.  It’s also worth pointing out that Google won’t be able to buy their way out of this one the way they have the others, they can’t give a job to somebody’s child, it’s just not going to go the usual way that Google thrives on corruption.  The complaint is really well-written (as we would expect) and tells the all-too-familiar compelling story of the struggle of artists to deal with YouTube’s “whack-a-mole” business model (or what Chris sometimes calls the “ennui of learned helplessness”:

This case is about copyright piracy. YouTube, the largest video-sharing website in the world, is replete with videos infringing on the rights of copyright holders. YouTube has facilitated and induced this hotbed of copyright infringement through its development and implementation of a copyright enforcement system that protects only the most powerful copyright owners such as major studios and record labels.

Plaintiffs and the Class are the ordinary creators of copyrighted works. They are denied any meaningful opportunity to prevent YouTube’s public display of works that infringe their copyrights—no matter how many times their works have previously been pirated on the platform. They are thus left behind by YouTube’s copyright enforcement system and instead are provided no meaningful ability to police the extensive infringement of their copyrighted work. These limitations are deliberate and designed to maximize YouTube’s (and its parents Google’s and Alphabet’s) focused but reckless drive for user volume and advertising revenue.

Moreover, the Plaintiffs and the Class are not only prevented from using any meaningful enforcement tool, but the system in place actually exacerbates the harms caused to them including in a manner that bars Defendants from the protections of any safe harbors under applicable copyright laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

Read the complaint here.

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

 

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