Recording Academy Calls For Modernization Of Music Licensing

Academy files response to Copyright Office's call for comments on current licensing statutes
June 03, 2014 -- 9:52 am PDT
GRAMMY.com

On May 23 The Recording Academy submitted an 11-page filing with the U.S. Copyright Office, proposing several recommendations for music licensing reform that reflect The Academy's mission to provide fair pay for music creators across all platforms. The document was submitted in response to a call for comments by the Copyright Office as it conducts an in-depth study of current licensing statutes, particularly as streaming radio and digital downloads have become the preferred music consumption methods by the public. "It is our mission to ensure that performers, songwriters and studio professionals should always receive fair market value for their work across all platforms, including the digital sphere," stated Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "That will only happen through the modernization of antiquated and dense statutes to make both the process of music licensing more efficient, and the compensation it provides far more equitable. Our hope is to see this actualized through the adoption of one piece of comprehensive 'music omnibus' legislation. We are hopeful that the Copyright Office will weigh these recommendations carefully."  

The Copyright Office's study of music licensing saw a number of filings from other music industry entities — including trade organizations, record labels, individual artists, and entertainment attorneys, among others — with their own unique approaches to the issue. However, as stated in The Recording Academy's filing, "The copyright clause of the [U.S.] Constitution, from which copyright law emanates, mentions only one class of stakeholders: authors and inventors. In the music ecosystem, the authors are the songwriters, performers and studio professionals who create the songs and recordings."

The Copyright Office's music licensing study may have some relevance to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's ongoing review of U.S. copyright law. The Recording Academy has already taken a leadership position on copyright review by launching a multicity discussion tour, during which U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante will meet with music creators in person to discuss the impact of current copyright law. Academy members in New York and Chicago have already participated in roundtables with Pallante, with more to take place by the end of the year. 

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