Music Creation Is Innovation

"Innovation." Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines the word as "the introduction of something new." In our fast-paced society, the word is often associated with new technology.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held another hearing in its ongoing review of current U.S. copyright law. The theme of the Nov. 19 session of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet was "The Rise Of Innovative Business Models: Content Delivery Methods In The Digital Age.In his opening statement, Congressional Subcommittee Chair Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) noted that "customer expectations are being changed by innovative business models." Witnesses for the session — representing a major online retailer, a software engineer, the motion picture association, and an Internet civil liberties organization — testified that the current digital universe represents unprecedented technological innovation that delivers content to consumers whenever, wherever, and however they desire. This on-demand environment has spurred positive economic growth, a point underscored by the Nov. 19 release of an IIPA study that says core copyright industries added more than $1 trillion in value to the U.S. economy in 2012.  

The recent hearing underscored the fact that when people talk about innovation in Washington, it usually means only hardware and software.

But when consumers experience a great new song on their fancy handheld device, the innovation did not begin with the device. It began when the songwriter first put pencil to paper, when the musicians played, and when the artist interpreted and performed the song in a way that moves us. The innovation continued further when producers and engineers captured that performance — often using technology that they developed — to create the tracks.

The innovation of content delivery methods in the digital age is only possible because of the artistic innovations that came first. Without the innovations of creators, the hardware and software would deliver nothing but silence. 

Only secure copyright and performance rights protections can ensure that artists are rightfully compensated for the creative work that drives the "innovative" digital economy. Any revision to copyright statutes should not erode current rights, but enhance them.

So when I run into tech lobbyists walking the halls showing off their latest music gadget, I always ask them what track is playing. And then I remind them that the songwriter, artist and producer of that track were the original innovators.

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