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

 

@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

 

Songwriters Guild Negotiates Concessions in Music Modernization Act and Publisher Support for Copyright Small Claims Court

[Editor Charlie sez:  The Songwriters Guild of America was not included in the closed door negotiations of the controversial Music Modernization Act but has been able to negotiate key concessions since the MMA’s introduction.  Rick Carnes and the Songwriters Guild deserve huge props for sticking up for songwriters.  It’s not over, so stay tuned for further improvements as songwriters find out what’s in store for them.]

PRESS RELEASE

SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA ANNOUNCES THAT NEGOTIATED CHANGES TO MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT ENABLE ENDORSEMENT OF BILL’S PASSAGE

Music Publishing Industry Support for Small Claims Act Also Secured

WASHINGTON — The Songwriters Guild of America, the largest and longest-established music creator advocacy organization in the United States, today announced it has negotiated changes to the pending Music Modernization Act (HR 4706) that will enable it to support passage of the legislation.  Among the agreed-upon amendments to the bill are:

  • the doubling of songwriter and composer representation on the board of directors of the Mechanical Licensing Collective established by the Act;
  • the re-alignment of an Unclaimed Royalties Oversight Committee that will now have a 50/50 music creator and music publisher balance; and
  • clarifications to the payments sections that will make it easier for music creators to get the full benefits of their negotiated publishing agreements as applied to the distribution of what the bill refers to as “unclaimed” funds by music publishers.

    mma_collective_structure_infographic

As part of the discussions leading to changes in the Music Modernization Act, the US music publisher community has also pledged to lend its full support on Capitol Hill to SGA’s efforts to secure quick passage of the pending Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2017 (HR 3945). CASE will provide music creators with a much needed, opt-in alternative to expensive, full blown copyright infringement actions against unlicensed users of their music.

Speaking on behalf of SGA, multi-platinum songwriter and organization president, Rick Carnes, noted that, “the benefits of the pending Modernization law, with the changes SGA has successfully sought, have made the current bill deserving of our support.  We continue to applaud the efforts of those members of the music creator and music publishing communities seeking further improvements and clarifications that would make the proposed legislation even more advantageous to American songwriters, composers and independent publishers. Still, the bill as it now stands would — on balance — benefit those creators we are sworn to protect significantly more than no bill at all.  Our two-word mission statement is to ‘protect songwriters.’ After more than six months of hard work alongside our colleagues in the independent music creator community through Music Creators North America (MCNA), SGA feels, individually, that it succeeded insofar as possible in carrying out our mission.”

Under the agreed-upon changes, the Mechanical Licensing Collective board will now have four professional songwriter/composer voting members and ten voting music publishers.  The Unclaimed Royalty Oversight Committee, whose role will be to oversee issues concerning ownership and distribution of so-called “unclaimed” royalties, will now have evenly balanced, “five and five” representation among ten voting members.  As to clarifications regarding payment of music creator royalties received from the Collective by music publishers, the bill is now clearer in spelling out that such royalties are to be distributed on a title-by-title basis to songwriters under the percentages set forth in their publishing agreements.  In other words, a songwriter or composer operating under an agreement that gives such creator the benefit of a 90%/10% split with its music publisher will have that same split applied in the distribution of “unclaimed” royalties that have been matched under the usage formula set forth in the legislation.

Other benefits of the legislation include establishment of a system that:

  • is likely to substantially improve royalty payment compliance by digital distributors of music on a going-forward basis;
  • changes in royalty rate determination formulas that will benefit both music creators and their copyright administrators; and
  • the promotion of greater fairness for US performing rights societies in their negotiations with users.

“Among SGA’s important roles following the bill’s enactment,” continued Carnes, “will be to assist the songwriter and composer community in making sure that every music creator receives the full benefits intended under the Act.  That includes publication of materials designed to inform and remind creators, in consultation with their legal and financial representatives, how best to ensure the maximum, accurate receipt of all royalties to which they are entitled.”  Carnes also pledged that SGA will be in the forefront of efforts, along with its fellow MCNA music creator groups, to ensure that experienced, knowledgeable and — above all — independently-minded songwriters and composers are tapped to serve as board members of the Collective.

SGA, established in 1931, is the largest and longest-established advocacy organization run solely by and for songwriters and composers in North America.  In addition to its role as a legislative advocate, SGA provides copyright administrative services and other informational and representation services to its national US membership upon request.

@naterau: As landmark songwriting bill gains momentum, Songwriters Guild Association raises concerns

The president of the Songwriters Guild of America is in Washington, D.C., this week to push for changes to the Music Modernization Act, which has the support of most songwriting, publishing and digital music stakeholders.

The landmark legislation, introduced in December, would create a new digital mechanical licensing organization, which would be in charge of identifying a composition’s publisher and songwriters to make sure they are paid accurately.

Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music would attain a blanket license, while songwriters would presumably be accurately identified and paid for their work, while also being subject to a new, more favorable royalty rate-setting standard.

But SGA President Rick Carnes raised concerns about the legislation in an interview with The Tennessean this week. Carnes said the new licensing organization, which some in the music industry have dubbed SongExchange, should be, at a minimum, equally run by songwriters and publishers.

Under the current legislation, publishers would have eight of the 10 board seats and self-published songwriters would have two. Carnes said the proposed licensing cooperative should follow the same model as the existing nonprofit SoundExchange, which handles digital licensing for artists and record labels.

“The first thing we did when we got this bill was take it to our sister songwriting organizations across the world. And the first thing we heard was that it should be at least, at the very least, 50-50 on the board,” Carnes said.

Carnes also expressed concern with a component of the legislation to disperse unclaimed royalties after three years. The bill would put the onus on the new organization to identify publishers and songwriters whose songs are used by the streaming services.

If a songwriter cannot be identified and doesn’t step forward to claim royalties after three years, the funds would then be dispersed among existing publishers and songwriters based on their streaming activity.

Read the post on The Tennessean