@soundexchange: SXWorks Announces New Services for Music Publishers and Songwriters

PRESS RELEASE

 

JUNE 12, 2018

SXWorks Announces New Services for Music Publishers and Songwriters

NOI Premium Expands on NOI LOOKUP Tools

WASHINGTON, DC – June 12, 2018 – SXWorks, a subsidiary of SoundExchange, today announced that it has developed two new services to expand upon NOI LOOKUP, the innovative new tool launched in January to help music publishers and songwriters search the more than 70 million address unknown Notice of Intention to Use (NOI) filings made with the U.S. Copyright Office.

NOI Premium Services, available beginning today from SXWorks, will give publishers and songwriters more opportunities to claim unpaid mechanical royalties from digital service providers (DSPs) and facilitate communication for creators with DSPs and the Copyright Office.

“Development of NOI Premium Services is a direct result of interest in our NOI LOOKUP service and the demand for more services from the publishers who use NOI LOOKUP,” said Michael Huppe, Chairman of the Board of SXWorks. “Since the introduction of NOI LOOKUP, songwriters and publishers have asked us to advance our efforts to help them get paid fairly and accurately.”

The new NOI Premium Services unveiled today are Works Claiming and Recordation.

Works Claiming helps publishers submit ownership claims and works shares to a digital service provider (DSP) for its use of a musical work. NOI Premium Services customers upload their works claims to SXWorks. SXWorks then sorts, formats and aggregates the uploaded file and forwards the rights owner’s claim and information to the proper contact at the DSPs identified by the publisher that filed NOIs for the musical work in question. A flat fee of $100 covers the cost of submitting up to three Works Claiming spreadsheets during a one-year period, each with up to 500 titles listed.

Recordation services take the Works Claiming tool a step further. If a songwriter or publisher requests the Recordation service, SXWorks will facilitate submission of the proper information and documents to the Copyright Office so the Office’s records are current and DSPs can locate a publisher’s contact information and ownership data. The recordation fee is $75 per submission plus fees charged by the Copyright Office.

“These new services represent the next step in the evolution of NOI LOOKUP. We know that giving publishers more control by creating new tools will help us chip away at the problem surrounding NOIs and unpaid royalties,” Huppe said. “It’s also important to note that NOI LOOKUP and NOI Premium Services represent the latest innovation – following our International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) Search and our new Music Data Exchange (MDX) program launched last month – to help publishers and songwriters by bringing transparency and efficiency to the music industry.”

To learn more about the new Works Claiming and Recordation services, read our FAQs here.

About SXWorks
SXWorks provides global services to music publishers to support multiple licensing configurations. SXWorks, a subsidiary of SoundExchange, is governed by a board consisting of leading music publishers and SoundExchange executives. SXWorks was created in conjunction with the 2017 acquisition of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd. (CMRRA). CMRRA represents the mechanical rights of music publishers and administers the majority of songs recorded, sold and broadcast in Canada.

You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For: Spotify, Google, Pandora Can’t Find Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry–but what about Martha Stewart — Music Technology Policy

In another odd twist in the 60,000,000-plus “mass NOI” debacle, a five second search of the SX Works NOI Lookup database reveals that Spotify, Google, Pandora and other services can’t seem to locate Aerosmith songwriters like Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, not to mention their co-writers like long-time Bryan Adams collaborator Jim Vallence. This time there are easy to find documents in the Copyright Office records identifying Aerosmith copyright owners that should have found if anyone bothered to look for them at the services, all of which certified to the Copyright Office that they had done the research.  Which raises the question of whether the services have all violated the federal statute that prohibits making false statements when filing documents, certainly any that invoke the awesome power of the Sovereign to force songwriters to give up property rights.

via You Can’t Find What You Don’t Look For: Spotify, Google, Pandora Can’t Find Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry–but what about Martha Stewart — Music Technology Policy

@edchristman: Songwriters Gain Influence in How the Music Modernization Act Would Work

[Editor Charlie sez:  This tinkering with the board seats changes the songwriter vote from 2/10 to 4/14, a change from 20% to 28% on the new collective created by the MMA, aka the self-licking ice cream cone.  This board structure is still wildly out of sync with every other creator collective in the world and will no doubt be opposed by ex-US writers.  Remember–the MMA covers all songs ever written or that ever will be written, including both US and ex-US works exploited in the US.  If the last compulsory license is a guide, the MMA will last 100 years after the Spotify IPO.  And still does nothing to police the mass NOIs that are filed every day.  But good news about extracting support for Google-opposed Copyright Small Claims Court.]

What the law ultimately says is up to members of the House and Senate, who will write the legislation and the subsequent regulations, but in the meantime, negotiations…have resulted in a proposal that allows songwriters and composers to have four seats on the now-expanded 14-seat board of directors, instead of the initially allotted two seats for songwriters on a smaller 10-seat board; while the unclaimed royalties oversight committee will now be evenly divided between publishers and songwriters. It also has resulted in additional clarifications to how payouts from unclaimed funds are distributed.

While the…the NSAI and SONA…had already come out in favor of the proposed legislation, the Songwriters Guild Of America initially withheld endorsing the legislation, saying it had some reservations about elements of it. But now SGA president Rick Carnes says his group is on board….

As part of the proposed changes, Carnes says that exclusionary clauses in older songwriter/publishers contracts sometimes prevent songwriters from collecting royalties because that clause allows publishers to take the stance that they don’t have to share the money with songwriters if it comes in unattributed to a song. “We tried to clarify that language so songwriters can get their fair share,” Carnes says.

In another move, as part of the negotiations with songwriters, the publishing community has “pledged to lend its full support on Capitol Hill to secure quick passage” of the pending Copyright Alternative In Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2017, which will provide music creators with an alternative to a full blown copyright infringement actions against unlicensed users of music.

Read the post on Billboard

 

Is it Time for the Inspector General to Review the Copyright Office’s Administration of Address Unknown NOIs?

If you haven’t been following the address unknown NOI debacle, you can get up to speed with my recent article on the subject for the American Bar Association Entertainment & Sports Lawyer.  If you have been following, you’ll know that the Copyright Office has accepted millions upon millions of address unknown NOIs that implicate repertoire from all over the world.

The punchline–if all a digital music service needs to do in order to claim they have a licene to reproduce and distribute a song is send a notice to the Copyright Office is send a notice saying they can’t find the song copyright owner, how hard do you think they’ll look?  Particularly if they know that the Copyright Office won’t check?

And that is where the Inspector General comes in.  Formed by the Inspector General Act of 1978, there are 73 Inspectors General in the US government, including the Library of Congress (which is where the Copyright Office is currently housed).  There are also inspector generals for the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice, two other branches where the Copyright Office might end up some day.

If there were ever a situation that cried out for review and investigation by the Inspector General, it is the address unknown NOI filings where Big Tech is running roughshod over songwriters.

For example, we did some spot checking on the NOI filings.  Remember, the address unknown NOI is only available if the copyright owner is not identifiable in the public records of the Copyright Office, notwithstanding the CO’s own position by regulation (for service of termination notices) that a search of the Copyright Office records and the ASCAP, BMI, GMR or SESAC databases would also suffice.

For example, here is an address unknown from Google for Sting’s song “Fragile” which supposedly was not identifiable in the public records of the Copyright Office:

Sting Fragile Google NOI

and here is the registration for “Fragile” in the public records of the Copyright Office:

Fragile Song Registration

Not only has the NOI for “Fragile” been served improperly, it raises the question of just how many other of the address unknown NOIs have been improperly served.  Even if we were to assume a 1% error rate (and I for one firmly believe it is much, much higher), that is 550,000 songs that have been improperly served.  While the assumption might be that only the obscure works would be included in these filings, the Sting example suggests that is not the case.

But–because no one is checking to confirm proper notice, that means that there is no protection against moral hazard and loophole seeking behavior by some of the biggest corporations in the world, including monopolists like Google and Spotify.  Since the Copyright Office refuses to do this work by fiat (see 37 C.F.R. § 201.18(g)), it logically falls to the Inspector General to determine both if the Copyright Office has behaved properly and also if the law is being properly administered to allow 55,000,000 (plus) songs to be exploited without compensation.

 

@davidclowery: Does Sensenbrenner Bill Mean It’s Time for a Grand Jury?

What appears to be a backdated NOI sent to the author. If this was intentionally backdated this is fraud. Note MRI is simply a third party that sent the notice on behalf of the service.  All legal responsibility rests with the service. 

Digital music services are trying to end songwriters ability to ever sue broadcasters and digital music services for copyright infringement with this bill.   In order to sue for copyright infringement you have to mount a case in a federal court.  Not your local district court.  This is extremely expensive.   I would estimate you need about $250,000 to effectively fight a case.   This bill takes away statutory penalties and legal fees, even when the songwriter prevails.  This makes it impossible for independent songwriters to exercise their legal rights. NAB Broadcasters and digital services like YouTube and Spotify can safely ignore songwriters, especially independent songwriters with no resources. Songwriters and publishers would have never been able to achieve the recent settlements against Spotify, without statutory penalties and legal fees.

So this may surprise you but I say “fine!” Take away our ability to mount copyright infringement lawsuits?  We still have plenty of other (sometimes much more severe) remedies available.  Most songwriters don’t really care about the money.  The royalties are pretty paltry to begin with.  This is really about the principle. This is about justice.

I’m no lawyer but the more I learn about the predicament of songwriters in the US, it feels like something more than just copyright infringement seems to be going on.  My layman’s reading of the situation makes me wonder if this isn’t exactly what the authors of the RICO laws had in mind.  [RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act”.  Copyright infringement has long been one of the RICO “predicates”.]

Read the post on Hypebot

@musictechpolicy: Hey Alexa, Where’s My Money? Address Unknown Update Courtesy of Paperchain

We get an update this week on the total “address unknown” mass NOIs filed with the Copyright Office for the royalty-free windfall loophole.  This time we have to thank our our friends at Paperchain in Sydney for doing the work of decompressing the massive numbers of unsearchable compressed files posted on the Copyright Office website.  As you can see, there’s been an increase of approximately 70% since January 2017.   (For background, see my article.)

As you can see, Amazon is still far and away the leader in this latest loophole designed to stiff songwriters, followed closely by Google.  However, Spotify is moving on up.  Spotify does get extra points for starting late in March 2017, but they are catching up fast filing over 5,000,000 as of last month.

Read the post on MusicTechPolicy