A number of Nashville’s top songwriters and recording artists have banded with musicians from all genres to urge lawmakers to reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The call to action is part of an ad that is running in Washington D.C. magazines The Hill, Politico, and Roll Call. The DMCA was enacted in 1998.
Under the DMCA, record labels and publishing companies are responsible for approaching website owner/operators to take down pirated music that they have illegally made available on their sites. It was signed into law during the era of dial-up internet and static websites, a time before music streaming and downloads had a dominant impact on the sale of music.
Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, Jack White, Liz Rose, Luke Laird, Brett James, Kings of Leon, Little Big Town, Blake Shelton, Kip Moore, Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Martina McBride, Hunter Hayes and Vince Gill are among those who have added their names in support. More than 180 songwriters and artists have called for a reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act through the letter. Several artists signed a petition on April 1 regarding the same subject.
Nineteen music industry organizations join the artists in support and include: A2IM, AFM, ASCAP, Azoff Music, BMI, Global Music Rights, Kobalt, NARAS, NMPA, NSAI, RIAA, SESAC, Sony/ATV, Sony Music, SoundExchange, Universal Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell and Warner Music Group.
“This is a historic moment in the music business,” says Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment. “This diverse group of artists coming together illustrates that this is a movement, which should not be underestimated. In all my years, this is the only time I can remember everyone—artists, songwriters, managers, labels, publishers, PROs—agreeing and collectively calling for change. This is just the beginning. The entire industry is united and committed to pursuing a fair resolution. We are fighting for the future.”
The petition comes as many major labels are in discussions to renew their licensing deals with YouTube. The U.S. Copyright Office is also studying the DMCA’s safe harbors, while the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is reviewing copyright law.
The ad reads:
DEAR CONGRESS:THE DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT (DMCA) IS BROKEN AND NO LONGER WORKS FOR CREATORS
As songwriters and artists who are a vital contributing force to the U.S. and to American exports around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living. The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music. Aspiring creators shouldn’t have to decide between making music and making a living. Please protect them.
One of the biggest problems confronting songwriters and recording artists today is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date compared to the era in which we live. It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish. Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies earned by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted.
The DMCA simply doesn’t work. It’s impossible for tens of thousands of individual songwriters and artists to muster the resources necessary to comply with its application. The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law nearly two decades ago. We ask you to enact sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment. It’s only then that consumers will truly benefit.
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About the AuthorJessica Nicholson is a staff writer with MusicRow Enterprises. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine, TasteofCountry.com and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]
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