June 22, 2016

Music Artists Need More Than Taylor Swift In Their DMCA Challenge

Artists need a leaderWith Taylor Swift and U2 the latest superstars to sign a petition to congress complaining about the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the movement appears to be gaining traction. Chances are this one ends up like others before it though, with lots of strong talking points presented, Congressman shaking their heads yes, but not much accomplished in the end. That’s because the movement suffers from a critical problem – it doesn’t have a politically savvy leader.

At issue is the fact that so much music is available for free on YouTube thanks to user uploads, and the service can’t be held liable thanks to the “safe harbor” guidelines of the DMCA. Although YouTube provides a means of finding and either monetizing or taking down the offending material, it’s a veritable whack-a-mole problem for copyright owners to keep up, as more illegal uploads are posted than are taken down. Plus, finding the violators is on the shoulders of the copyright owner and not the service.

That’s why both artists and record labels want the DMCA adjusted to put more responsibility on YouTube for policing illegal uploads, and the likes of Lady Gaga, Sir Paul McCartney, Ryan Adams, Cher, Sir Elton John, Jack White, Fall Out Boy, Yoko Ono Lennon, Bette Midler, Queens Of the Stone Age,Pink, Maroon 5, Mark Ronson, Pusha-T, Sade, Gwen Stefani, Sting, Beck, Ne-Yo and Trent Reznor, along with the previously mentioned Taylor Swift and U2, have signed on.

The big problem is that there’s no one directly speaking for the artists best interests, and no organization in the United States dedicated to lobbying the powers-that-be strictly on their behalf (although they exist in both Europe and the UK). It’s time for an artist association with a strong leader to truly represent the needs of today’s recording artist – a Music Artists Coalition (MAC has a nice ring to it), if you will.

The idea (but not the name) comes from a music insider who knows a thing or two about industry associations and their power. Rupert Perry, former President of EMI Europe and former chairman of both the UK’s British Phonographic Industries and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries, observed over lunch recently, “The thing that’s holding this back is that artists don’t speak with a single voice. They need somebody who’s as capable of putting on a suit and talking to a Congressman as he is speaking to a label or publishing executive.” The idea makes perfect sense, but that person hasn’t been found and organization hasn’t been created yet, and the cause can’t effectively be furthered until that happens. [Read more on Forbes…]

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