ArtsWatch: House Hears Portnow's Call For Fair Music Market

Music industry witnesses and Congressional representatives getting onboard the MusicBus
June 16, 2014 -- 6:37 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

Music Omnibus Legislation Idea Plays Great In D.C.
On June 10 Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow was the first of several industry witnesses to testify at the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet hearing "Music Licensing Under Title 17 Part One." His message that "fair market pay, for all music creators, across all platforms" should be addressed by comprehensive music omnibus legislation was well received by many on the subcommittee. Portnow noted that separate meaningful bills have been already introduced in Congress, including the Songwriter Equity Act, the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act and the Respect Act, and that there is also the pressing need for a terrestrial radio performance right. These issues can all best be addressed by one broader bill that balances every stakeholder's interest and benefit. In his opening statement, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced he has begun developing a bipartisan MusicBus draft with his colleagues. "We can create a better system for radio competitors, for artists and songwriters, and for fans, all of whom depend on a vital healthy market for music and music services," said Nadler. At the conclusion of the hearing, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) described the MusicBus approach as "a very crucial moment … in our history for intellectual property." Part two of the hearing is scheduled for June 25 with expected witnesses representing A2IM, ASCAP, NAB, Pandora, RIAA, SiriusXM, and SoundExchange.

NMPA Quantifies Music Publishing Revenue, Lost Revenue
Following its annual meeting on June 11, the National Music Publishers' Association reported that revenue for the U.S. music publishing industry in 2013 totaled $2.2 billion, while estimating that approximately $2.3 billion is lost to the industry annually due to "outdated copyright law and government regulations." The figures mark the first time the organization has quantified the industry's total revenue based on its new revenue data reporting agreement with music publishers. "We are finally able to capture what the industry is worth and, more importantly, what our industry is losing," said NMPA President/CEO David Israelite, who testified the day before at the House Judiciary Committee hearing alongside Portnow.

HathiTrust Google Books Repository Wins Fair Use Appeal
On June 10 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed most of a 2012 U.S. District Court decision, finding that the universities maintaining the HathiTrust repositories of Google Books scans were operating within fair use guidelines, at least so far. The portion of the District Court ruling pertaining to preservation copies was vacated and remanded over the issue whether several of the plaintiffs had legal standing to sue. Lead plaintiff the Authors Guild agreed with some aspects of the decision, particularly the narrowness of the fair use determination regarding transformative text search and assistance to people with print disabilities. In a June 11 blog, the Authors Guild clarified that this appeal was distinct from its claims against Google, stating, "We continue to believe that it is fundamentally unfair for Google to make use of the entire text of copyrighted books for its own commercial purposes without any compensation to authors." As a side note, given the growing importance of search results to contemporary culture and copyright, it is a sign of things to come that the appellate court's ruling incorporated a screen-captured image of search results into its ruling.

Björk iPad App Acquired By Museum Of Modern Art
The 2011 iPad app that brought Björk's GRAMMY-nominated album Biophilia to life as a multimedia presentation has been accepted into the permanent design collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. "Björk has never ceased to experiment and surprise," said Senior Curator Paola Antonelli in a June 11 announcement. The museum also detailed the international design credentials of several of the artists who collaborated on the project and praised the way the app engages the user with an immersive multimedia experience. While MOMA's design department has acquired other computer applications, this is the first-ever downloadable app to become part of the museum.

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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