CCAGW Urges Support for Music Copyright Modernization

February 20, 2018

Dear Members of the House Committee on the Judiciary,

Technological advances have changed the way everyone listen to music, but compensation for performers, producers, and songwriters remains in the dark ages. They do not receive just compensation for the intellectual property created by their hard work and ingenuity.

Under current law, pre-1972 recordings do not have federal copyright protection; digital radio services are regulated under a compulsory licensing system established in 1972, with rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board; composers and songwriters are compensated through mechanisms set up in 1909; and music producers can only collect their share of royalty payments through a contract known as a “letter of direction.” This compensation structure is unlike any other form of intellectual property rights. On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to reform the music copyright system.

Currently, three bills are under consideration by the committee to address some of these disparities. H.R. 881, the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP Act); H.R. 3301, the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contribution to Society Act (CLASSICS Act); and H.R. 4707, the Music Modernization Act of 2017.

H.R. 881 was introduced on February 6, 2017. Usually behind the scenes, music producers have a significant impact on the final creative product by ensuring that a song has a quality sound recording, and the final musical outcome is well-produced. H.R. 881 would provide a right for a producer to collect digital royalties and a consistent, permanent process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their contributions to music creation.

Introduced on July 19, 2017, H.R. 3301 would establish royalty payments to artists and music creators who recorded music prior to 1972, whenever their music is played on digital radio, and provide protection for these recordings by making their unlicensed digital transmission illegal. This legislation would provide parity with music created subsequent to 1972.

H.R. 4706 was introduced on December 21, 2017. This legislation simplifies digital music licensing rights and increases royalty payments to copyright holders based on a willing buyer/willing seller standard. It creates a single licensing entity to administer mechanical reproduction rights for digital music compositions. H.R. 4706 would also eliminate the bulk notice of intent process through the Copyright Office, which can prevent songwriters from receiving full compensation for their work and being paid in a timely manner.

CCAGW endorses all three bills. They are a good step forward in providing across-the-board equity for everyone working in the music industry, and I urge you to support moving them forward through the committee. If you have any questions or comments, please contact CCAGW Director of Technology and Telecommunications Policy Deborah Collier at 202-467-5300.

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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