Music Creators North America: PASSAGE BY US SENATE OF MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT IS APPLAUDED BY MUSIC CREATORS NORTH AMERICA

PRESS RELEASE

Music Creators North America, Inc. (MCNA), a music creator alliance representing a US, Canadian and global coalition of over half a million songwriters and composers from around the world through its affiliates in the International Council for Music Creators (CIAM), applauded the passage today of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) by the US Senate.  The Act, if signed into law by the President once a unified version is agreed upon by both houses of the US Congress, will reform and streamline the music licensing process and force digital music distributors to take greater responsibility in ensuring the equitable, proper, and timely payment of royalties to music creators for distribution of their works in the US.

According to the member organizations of MCNA, the benefits of the MMA strongly outweighed its shortcomings, and its passage is a welcome step forward.  The Act, however, will require constant vigilance by the music creator community to ensure that all of the intended benefits to composers and songwriters are realized.  This includes encouragement of music creators to claim the royalties owed to them, careful monitoring of distributions of so-called “unmatched” royalties, and especially close scrutiny of actions undertaken by the music licensing collective established under the legislation and controlled by a board of directors that has only a minority of music creator members.  The members of MCNA have pledged their full energies in support of these and other efforts to safeguard songwriter and composer rights, including keeping a close watch on the process in which the US House of Representatives and Senate versions of the bill are reconciled.

 

Press Release: BOLD EUROPEAN VOTE ENDORSING FAIR PAYMENT FOR THE ON-LINE USE OF MUSIC CELEBRATED BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSIC CREATORS (MCNA)

[Editor Charlie sez:  This is a press release from Music Creators North America about yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament that was a total win for creators and a total loss for the Digital Music Association and its scammy members who backed an astroturf campaign that backfired.]

Music Creators North America, Inc. (MCNA), a US-Canadian music creator alliance representing a global coalition of over half a million songwriters and composers from around the world through its affiliates in the International Council for Music Creators (CIAM), expressed enormous satisfaction over the European Parliament’s visionary vote today in support of the rights of music creators, musical culture, and fair trade economic community.

“This is a crucial step forward for the protection in Europe of therights and interests of North American music creators,” stated MCNA’s cochairs, songwriter Rick Carnes and composer Marvin Dolgay. “It represents a landmark development in one of the world’s most important and influential music markets, and one that we hope will spur rapid implementation in the EU and the adoption of similar legislative action around the world.”

The European Parliament’s members were thanked by the MCNA member groups for their bold vote (438 to 226), unequivocally endorsing the principle of fair online remuneration for creative works. The EU has paved the way for the creative sector finally to be properly rewarded when their works are exploited online. A clear signal has been sent to those powerful digital interests that have, for too long, built enormous wealth upon the unremunerated use of the creative work of others.

In addition, the vote is a resounding commitment to principles of transparency, fairness, equity and affordable access to justice that can improve the professional standing of those whose creative works are entrusted to others for management.

Audiences in Europe may join in celebrating the fact that new mechanisms are now to be put in place that will promote the principle of fair and just reward to creators, and that it will no longer simply be corporations and distributors who are the greatest beneficiaries of the works the citizens enjoy.

MCNA President, Eddie Schwartz, who also serves as CIAM President, said today of the EU Parliament’s vote: “This is a seminal moment in the future of music creators, and indeed all creative people in the EU and around the world. The EU Parliament has clearly shown the way towards not only a new dawn for reinvigorated cultural industries and individual creators, but also the equitable distribution of earnings in the flourishing digital economy. We trust this watershed vote will be endorsed in January 2019. And we hope that future generations will see this as an historic moment, resulting from a newfound solidarity throughout the music creator community and the larger artistic communities as a whole that we shall build upon it in the months and years to come!”

Music Creators North America (MCNA) is an alliance of music creator organizations that represent the rights and interests of composers and songwriters in the United States and Canada. Each of MCNA’s member organizations is run exclusively by and for music creators. As such, MCNA is the pure voice of North American music creators and, through our global alliances, a half-million songwriters and composers across the United States and around the world. Its members include The Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), The Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), The Council of Music Creators (CMC), and The Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC).

Music Creators North America Letter to Congress Critiquing Issues in Music Modernization Act

[Editor Charlie sez:  After the many letters from songwriter organizations, it is looking like what The Bible described as the “full throated endorsement of licensing reform” was more like a throat full of cram down by Big Tech–and their search for yet more loopholes and even safer harbors.]

MUSIC CREATORS NORTH AMERICA

February 1st, 2018

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments for the record of the House  Judiciary Committee field hearing, “Music Policy Issues: A Perspective From Those Who Make It,” held in New York City on January 26, 2018. They are submitted on behalf of Music Creators North America (MCNA), an alliance of music creator organizations that represent the rights and interests of composers and songwriters, principally in the United States. Each of MCNA’s member organizations is run exclusively by and for music creators. As such, MCNA is the pure voice of North American music writers and, through our global alliances, a half-million songwriters and composers around the world.

For the sake of clarity, however, this submission should be regarded as principally representing the view of MCNA’s thousands of American members, rendered with the full support of the MCNA-aligned international music creator community.

Specifically, we would like to address issues concerning the Music Modernization Act (HR. 4706). In doing so, we want to stress that MCNA and its coalition partners enthusiastically support the principles underlying HR 4706, and wish once again to thank Representatives Doug Collins, Hakeem Jeffries, and the other co-sponsors of the bill for their hard work and devotion to the cause of protecting the creative community.

We note that, at the January 26 hearing, several members of the Judiciary Committee asked the panelists a significant question that went unanswered. In the paraphrased words of Representative Demings, if, as some panelists indicated, the MMA is not perfect, how can it be improved? Since none of the panelists addressed that important inquiry in detail, we would like to take this opportunity to draw to the Committee’s attention three crucial clarifications, among a number of concerns, that would give great benefit and comfort to the community of American songwriters and composers, issues we very much hope to discuss with the Committee’s Members prior to mark-up.

Chief among them is the selection of the members of the boards of the proposed Collective, both the number of seats allotted to songwriters and composers and the election process to fill those seats. As you and the members of your Committee well know, Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution recognizes the rights of authors and inventors and empowers Congress to protect those rights. The work of songwriters and composers (i.e. authors) is the foundation on which rests the entire music industry, the business of commercial entities that distribute music, and the enjoyment of music fans.

While songwriters and composers are free to engage in contractual relationships with publishers, record companies, and a wide variety of representatives covering other aspects of their careers, US copyright law gives most creators them the unfettered right to control their work from inception.

As the creators of these foundational works, we are simply seeking an appropriate voice in their exploitation. In order to ensure that our voice is truly heard, it is of crucial importance that the legislation provide the songwriter and composer community (as distinguished from, for example, those who administer our rights) with a democratic means of selecting a number of board members equal to those of music publishers and other administrators. These should be knowledgeable, independent, and unbiased music reators capable of ensuring in a cooperative way the protection of our rights and interests. We believe that the details of such a process can be arrived at with the cooperation of our colleagues in the music publishing community, and we look forward to that opportunity.

The second issue is a simple clarification in the “Songwriter Payments” provisions found on page 40, line 17 of HR 4706. In order to ensure that music creators get the full benefits of their contracts with music publishers, we believe that very concise language can be added for clarity to ensure that—as intended by all parties—the distribution of unmatched royalties is made by the Collective and by music publishers on a designated, per title basis. Without this language, it may be possible for a music publisher or administrator to pay such royalties to music creators at rates significantly below those set forth in their contracts. We will be happy to provide draft language in that regard if the Committee deems it appropriate.

The third issue concerns the integrity and structure of the mandated database,specifically, the vital inclusion of unique creator identifiers. As you are most likely aware, many music creators make relatively frequent changes in their contractual relationships with publishers, administrators, and others. (This, of course, is one of the frustrating situations with which music users must deal when seeking licenses.) But the name and, therefore, the identifying information of the creator of a composition, never changes. Therefore, for data accuracy and accessibility for music users, music publishers, and music creators to be fully realized, a creator’s number should be recorded on every musical composition in the database stipulated in HR 4706. This will greatly enhance the ability of individual music creators to identify their works, especially those compositions still unmatched, so that they can claim royalties for their uses.

We are pleased to report that discussions of these issues are underway between and among members of the music community. We ask for the Committee’s assistance, indulgence, and encouragement to allow this process to move forward prior to mark-up.

Thank you, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler, for all you have done forthe American music creator community and the protection of copyright. We are grateful to have been provided with the opportunity to expand and clarify the record on these important issues. We look forward to working with you and the Committee to ensure that this enormously important piece of legislation is the very best bill it can be.

Sincerely,

David Wolfert

For Music Creators North America (MCNA)

cc: Members of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives

For a listing of MCNA Members and Associates, please refer to the website: www.musiccreatorsna.org

Music Creators North America Letter to Department of Justice Opposing Full Work Licensing, Partial Withdrawals

Dear Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hesse:

The following comments are submitted by Music Creators North America, Inc. on behalf of a global coalition of half a million songwriters and composers from the United States, Canada and our global sister organizations, in response to the request from your Division for reaction to its oral report to us regarding the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees.

We begin by stating once again that we strenuously object to the timetable set by the DOJ for the submission of these comments. Unlike the many multi-­‐national, billion-­‐dollar corporations identified by your Division as “interested parties” concerning this matter (including one of the world’s richest, most powerful and influential corporations, Google), our coalition of music creators does not have and cannot afford to maintain an army of antitrust attorneys and experts to immediately prepare a detailed analysis and refutation of the solely telephonic report we were given by DOJ.

We have asked several times for a reasonable extension of time to research and comment, made even more crucial by the fact that many of our individual members are on concert tours during the summer months and unable to be reached or canvassed. Your Division has offered as the explanation that because DOJ has received such intense criticism over its leaked comments in the press, it desires to get its official comments on the record as soon as possible.  We do not consider that a valid reason for refusal.

Nevertheless, we were given just a few days to prepare a critique on conclusions that it took the DOJ two years to reach, and to which we have been given no written access. We have been forced therefore, to make our comments brief and to the point:

1. We regard the announced intentions of the DOJ (a) not to amend the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees in ways that would allow us to receive fair market value for the performance of our works, and (b) to impose mandatory “full work licensing” on a copyright co-­‐owner or co-­‐ administrator if is so requested by a copyright user, as serious injustices that will further damage the ability of songwriters and composers to earn a living through our chosen profession. In the digital age, no group of creators has suffered more severe income devaluation (despite a substantial increase in the public consumption of our works) than songwriters and composers. The DOJ appears poised to add to these miseries.

2. Moreover, damage to individual music creators is not the only problem that the DOJ will be exacerbating. Its contemplated conclusions are likely to cause serious damage to the future of American and global musical culture, and thus to future public access to and enjoyment of new music. By erecting hurdles that may substantially hinder collaboration among music creators in the future, and by adopting positions that drastically reduce the financial incentive to create in favor of driving royalty rates well below fair market value to serve the interests of corporations whose music distribution businesses have been built principally on our creative works, the DOJ is acting in ways that are inconsistent with principles of fairness and common sense. Its contemplated actions, in fact, fly directly in the face of the US Constitution’s celebrated recognition of the importance of motivating and protecting creators and inventors for the betterment of the community.

3. We are also compelled to express deep concern that the DOJ did not give adequate consideration to international issues that impact on its pending recommendations (including World Trade Organization rules and protocols and US international treaty obligations), or to the recommendations of the US Copyright Office and other departments of the US Government more expert in intellectual property matters. The reasons underlying these seemingly willful omissions are unsettling to our community, and deserve further scrutiny.

As noted in our public statement (attached), the ONLY solace that may possibly be taken by music creators from the DOJ’s articulated intentions has been its decision not to approve so-­‐called “partial withdrawal” by music publishers from ASCAP and BMI. Allow us to be clear that we do not regard this narrow point as negating in any way the damage inflicted on our community as described in the numbered points above. We simply acknowledge that the DOJ took the time to understand that granting such a privilege to music publishers would eviscerate the abilities of creators to defend themselves against an increasing lack of royalty transparency, resulting in serious additional losses to songwriters and composers.

Read the entire statement in this downloadable pdf.