Photo: Shannon Finney/WireImage
What's Ahead In 2020 For Music Creators' Rights?
A new decade is upon us, and 2020 brings a bright future for music policy impacting music creators and their ability to make a living. Already, on Jan. 3, the second session of the 116th Congress officially kicked off, and there are many upcoming chances for advancement for the music community.
In honor of the New Year, here are seven key music legislative items—on Capitol Hill and beyond—to keep track of in the months to come:
1. CASE Act Passing
Bipartisan support for the Copyright Alternative Small Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) continues to surge toward establishing a better system for equal copyright protection for all creators. Yet Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) is still the only one blocking the passage of the CASE Act. But Sen. Wyden’s hold on the CASE Act has not deterred artists from fighting to protect their rights.
Along with a group of photographers, authors, illustrators, and other creators, Academy members in Oregon have been relentless in their grassroots efforts to persuade Sen. Wyden—most recently attending a constituent town hall hosted by Sen. Wyden in Portland this past weekend. [ML1] Academy members nationwide have also been advocating Sen. Wyden to release his hold through participating in online campaigns (#MySkillsPayBills and #JustONE hashtags on Twitter).
Contact Sen. Wyden to let him know you stand with the bill that will simplify and streamline the process for all creators to defend their work against infringement.
2. AM-FM Act Introduced
At long last, artists and musicians may be on their way to having a say—and getting paid—when their recordings are played on terrestrial (AM/FM) radio. Introduced in November by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the bipartisan and bicameral Ask Musicians for Music (AM-FM) Act would establish an AM/FM performance right for American artists and studio professionals when their music is played on terrestrial radio and require radio broadcasters to get the permission of the music makers before using their music. The bill would also protect small and medium sized radio broadcasters to ensure that they can continue to provide a service to their local communities.
3. New Register of Copyrights
Marking a big change already in Washington this year, Karyn Temple left her post as the Register of Copyrights on Jan 3. Once appointed, the next Register of Copyrights will be tasked with continuing the MMA’s implementation, modernizing the copyright office, and implementing any new legislation that is passed in this session, including the above-mentioned CASE Act and the AM-FM Act.
4. Senate DMCA Hearings
The Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee plans to hold a series of hearing on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 2020, including several looking at Section 512 and whether the current notice and takedown system and safe harbor protections are working as intended when the law was first drafted more than 20 years ago. The Copyright Office is also expected to publish its much-anticipated Section 512 study in the first half of 2020.
With the DMCA regulating much of the modern copyright framework, the Recording Academy will be active and diligent in collaborating with the Judiciary Committee and the Copyright Office as they measure the effectiveness of the law and its impact on the copyright community.
5. California Assembly Bill 5
What works for one industry may harm another. To that end, California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which went into effect on Jan. 1, is designed to protect workers in the "gig economy" such as Uber drivers, but, as passed, would also impact music creators who could be mischaracterized as employees and/or employers of studios, labels, venues, songwriters, and more.
On Dec.18, the Recording Academy and the Music Artists Coalition sent a joint letter to their respective members in California to update them on the latest regarding AB5. The letter highlighted the music community’s ongoing negotiations to secure an exemption from AB5, while also prepping the membership for potential grassroots activations if the entire community cannot reach a consensus.
6. Concert Ticketing
In an increasingly dangerous marketplace for music fans and the artists fans want to see, protection against scalpers and scammers is crucial. Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have formally opened an investigation into the live event ticket marketplace. Lead by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)—along with Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.).—the committee sent letters of inquiry to Live Nation, StubHub, and other companies in the ticket marketplace regarding business practices, consumer concerns and issues such as service fees, transparency and speculative tickets.
The letter referenced the 2016 BOTS Act, which the Recording Academy helped become law, as well as past government reviews of the ticket marketplace that the Academy participated in. The Academy will be sure to stay actively involved in any further committee action to ensure that the voice of the artists is well represented.
7. Consent Decrees
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has been busy reviewing the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees in order to decide if the decree should be amended or allowed to sunset. Many groups, including the Recording Academy, have expressed their opinions about this review and the future of this decree. The DOJ is likely to conclude its review in the coming months.