Next week we will continue discussion of the Department of Justice [sic] ruling on 100% licensing and partial withdrawals from the songwriter’s point of view. Participants will be songwriters Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley of Songwriters of North America, David Lowery and Chris Castle. Watch this space for links to the podcast when it is completed, probably August […]
We made the Google/DOJ ruling on 100% licensing available on the MTP website, you can get it at this link: https://musictechpolicy.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/doj-100-pc-licensing-ruling.pdf
More to come.
Statement of IMPF Board of Directors on the U.S. DoJ’s 100% licensing scheme
How is it possible that the U.S. Department of Justice made a decision to not only leave the outdated consent decrees as they are, despite all the meetings, entreaties and ideas of the last two years, but added to its’ interpretation of those decrees in a clearly punitive and devastating move for small and indie music publishers and their songwriters?
In what was described by IMPF, the independent music publishers forum, as ‘an unmitigated disaster’, the decision only looks at the 100% licensing concept, which goes against common practise in the music industry, forcing, as it will, the CMOs to adopt ‘100% licensing’ despite the fact that the CMO may not actually represent all the owners of the musical work.
“This decision will result in confusion and chaos for everyone, from music publishers, to collective rights managements organisations around the world, and licensees and sadly and ultimately for songwriters, who will suffer the most, as this new system will lead to unfair prices that do not reflect the real value of their musical works” said Pierre Mossiat, President of the IMPF Board of Directors. “In short nothing has been fixed but everything has been further broken” he added.
IMPF also noted that the decision has implications for the way the U.S. does business abroad as it ignores international trade protocols, and may in fact be unlawful under WTO rules, as, applying this rule to copyrights originating in countries other than the U.S., when the rule is not recognised in those other countries, has profound ramifications.
IMPF will lend full support to ASCAP and BMI in the U.S. and to local and international music publishers as they figure out ways to address their options in a situation that was entirely avoidable, and until now has ever been an issue.
IMPF serves as a network and meeting place for independent music publishers. Its main objectives are to share experiences and best practices in music publishing; exchange information on the legal framework and music publishing environment; coordinate actions and support projects relevant to composers and music publishers; represent the interests of the independent music publishing community; and stimulate a favourable environment for artistic, cultural, linguistic and commercial diversitywww.impforum.org
This is an open letter to songwriters from Warner/Chappell CEO Big Jon Platt on the unconstitutional Google DOJ ruling and unfunded mandate from former Google lawyer and Department of Justice official Renata B. Hesse:
As you may be aware, for the last two years, ASCAP and BMI have been in discussions with U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ) regarding the decades-old consent decrees that govern ASCAP’s and BMI’s licensing practices. The objective was to have the consent decrees amended and updated in order to make them more responsive to today’s fast-moving, and increasingly digital, music business. However, in a hugely disappointing decision, the DOJ has declined to implement any of the changes requested by ASCAP and BMI.
But what’s more, the DOJ has determined that the consent decrees require ASCAP and BMI to license their repertoire on a 100% basis. This means that any licensee would be able to obtain a license for 100% of any song from ASCAP or from BMI, even if that society only controls a small portion of the song. This determination is completely inconsistent with the manner in which ASCAP and BMI have issued public performance licenses and threatens to undermine the very system by which songwriters have, for many years, been compensated for the public performance of their songs. It is especially alarming that the DOJ has come to this determination despite the overwhelming concerns expressed by ASCAP, BMI, NMPA, publishers, songwriters and even the U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE. In JANUARY, the COPYRIGHT OFFICE advised that: “Such an approach would seemingly vitiate important principles of copyright law, interfere with creative collaborations among songwriters, negate private contracts, and impermissibly expand the reach of the consent decrees.”
Our loyalty – first and foremost – is always to you, our songwriters. Our understanding is that, because there are so many unanswered questions and implementation challenges, the DOJ is providing a one-year grace period for the industry to adapt to the DOJ’s new interpretation of the consent decrees. We are and will be working on your behalf, independently and with ASCAP, BMI and NMPA, to explore all available strategies to preserve and grow your public performance revenue in the face of the DOJ’s unfortunate determination.
At WARNER/CHAPPELL, the DOJ’s actions have only strengthened our resolve to find new revenue opportunities for our songwriters. As we move forward, we will keep you informed and we may ask you to lend your support to our efforts.