A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Enter Night, Exit Copyright

It’s funny how the billionaire music collectives wanted to meet with President Elect Donald Trump straight after the election. Did they ask for the meeting to work out ways to help the songwriters they represent get more money?

Of course not.

The music lobby groups and organisations backed Hillary Clinton with bribes and voices. It was pretty clear they wanted another Clinton in power. Actually if Hillary won, the U.S would have been ruled by two families (Bush and Clinton) for 20 plus years.

The two main performing rights organizations (PROs) in the industry are the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). These special interest groups collectively represent over one million songwriters, composers, and music publishers and control the rights to approximately 90 percent of all musical compositions. Originally formed to protect music artists and producers by facilitating licensing deals between them and entities that play their music for the public, such as radio stations and restaurants, ASCAP and BMI have swiftly mutated into a government-recognized (and government-created) monopoly.
Jillian Lane Wyant – American Thinker

In other words, a government granted private monopoly really interferes with the rights of the artists and destroys the public domain. But these organisations have done a wonderful job of spinning their stories, all in an attempt to protect the billions they get for really doing nothing.

So how much is the global music copyright business worth?

It’s an important question because since Napster, the only press we seem to hear is about declining CD/mp3 revenues and how those streaming billions still end up as cents to the songwriters. What seems to be selectively missed is the value of copyright.

The international record label lobby group is telling the world, the music business is worth $15 billion. However, Spotify’s Director of Economic, Will Page, has performed his own analysis and global revenues generated by music copyright in 2015 is at $24.37bn.

Who do you believe?

A record label amount shrouded in secrecy, smoke and mirrors or a report from a service that offers music, and based on statistical data models.

The $24.37bn figure is made up of $13.975 billion to the record labels, $8.257 to the performing rights organisations and $2.139 billion to publishers via direct licensing. It doesn’t even include the multi-billion dollar live industry.

So if 70% of the $24 billion was paid to artists, then $16.8 billion would be in the hands of artists. However, 90 to 95% of the monies earned from copyright goes to the Labels and the Copyright monopolies and the end result is pennies for the actual songwriters.

And if you believe the crap the labels push to their loyal news outlets about the costs of breaking an artist, then the labels are actually losing money. But, the labels and the publishers still have their sky-high towers, with their staff flying private, while 99% of the artists they hold copyrights for, fly economy or don’t even have the funds to pay for a flight let alone tour.

And think about how much power the Publishing side of music has. $10.397 billion is not small change and it’s in the hands of people who contribute nothing to music and culture.

Because it’s not the entertainment industry or the music industry; it’s the copyright industry, plain and simple. And they don’t safeguard their rights or their copyright; they safeguard their monopolies, clarified as their copyright monopoly.
TORRENT FREAK ARTICLE

Because if the copyright industry did care about the artists, why would they go to court against the artist in a bid to prevent the artist from terminating the copyright agreements.

Case in point is Duran Duran.

All they wanted was to end a longstanding contract that gave a music publishing company permission to exploit their work. Because artists who control and own the copyrights to their own catalogues, especially a catalogue full of hits, can negotiate their own streaming licensing rates and so forth. Motley Crue and Metallica are two such artists who own their copyrights and can negotiate better rates.

But in the end, Copyright laws that are designed to benefit the songwriters have been washed in waters polluted with other contract laws and what we have is a mess designed to safeguard the monopolies of the copyright industry. Because in the U.S, Copyright law specifies that artists can reclaim their copyrights after 35 years. So Duran Duran issued a termination notice to their label for their copyrights.

“What artist would ever want to sign to a company like Sony/ATV as this is how they treat songwriters with whom they have enjoyed tremendous success for many years? We issued termination notices for our copyrights in the US believing it simply a formality. After all, it’s the law in America. Sony/ATV has earned a tremendous amount of money from us over the years. Working to find a way to do us out of our rights feels like the ugly and old-fashioned face of imperialist, corporate greed. I thought the acceptability of this type of treatment of artists was long gone – but it seems I was wrong. Sony/ATV’s conduct has left a bitter taste with us for sure, and I know that other artists in similar positions will be as outraged and saddened as we are. We are hopeful this judgment will not be allowed to stand.”
Simon LeBon

If the copyright industry did care about the artists, then why would they lobby governments to write laws that kept on changing the expiry of copyright terms from 14 years to 28 years to “on death of the artist” to “death plus 70 years” and in some countries it is now “death plus 90 years” . It’s all about safeguarding their monopolies and nothing to do with protecting artists.

There is no academic evidence that proves longer copyrights leads to greater rewards or provides incentive for the creator. It’s not like the 19 year old James Hetfield said to himself, “gee, lucky copyright lasts for 70 years after I die, so I have an incentive to write “Hit The Lights” and create music”. No songwriter thinks of copyright when they sit down to write a song or to create anything worthwhile. They do it because of a need to be creative.

Remember a few years ago when Larrikin Music (a publisher) purchased to the rights to an old 50’s folk song (where the creator had died a long time ago) and then sued the songwriters of the band Men At Work for an 11 note flute sequence that sounded similar to their own flute solo in their 1980’s hit “Down Under”. Yep, that’s just one of many copyright abuses happening in the world.

However the biggest one is the “Blurred Lines” trial. Suddenly Marvin Gaye and his songs are so original. The lawyers on behalf of Gaye’s estate are spinning the story of how Gaye created in a vacuum and without any influence from artists that Gaye might have heard. And suddenly anyone who writes a song that sounds similar or has a funk/R&B feel, is copying Marvin Gaye.

Once upon a time, in 1790, the law for copyright was the creator had to register the work and they got a 14 year monopoly. They then had an option to renew for an additional 14 years for a maximum copyright of 28 years. And Copyright was never about making sure that content creators get paid. Copyright is about forcing works into the public domain so that everyone can use them. Fast forward to pre-1976, the law for copyright was 28 years (with proper registration), then another 28 years (with renewal registration) for a maximum copyright of 56 years. After that, the work entered the public domain. If the creator failed to renew at the 28-years, the work fell into public domain earlier.

Did anyone hear about the country songwriter in the 50’s who wrote songs and then sold them on to other artists for a small amount. Those other artists would then pass the songs off as their own and in some cases, those artists would end up hitting it big on a song they didn’t write. As the Knoxnews story states;

Arthur Q. Smith’s name doesn’t show up in country music history books too often, because Q, as his friends called him, sold his biggest songs outright for $25, $15 or even less. Sometimes he sold them just for the price of his bar tab. Q was a man of extraordinary talent, but also an alcoholic of legendary proportions. For years, his children only heard tales of his drunkenness from his colleagues; his accomplishments were simply well-known secrets among musicians.

An average weekly pay check in 1946 was approximately $50, and probably less in Knoxville, so $25 was a considerable pay check. Royalties were generally small unless a song was a big hit, and the pay trickled in slowly.

You see, Q didn’t just sell the song he wrote to one artist, he sold it many times to different artists, who then registered their version of the song with the Copyright office as their own composition. In effect, the same song was registered many times with many different writers, but never with the person who actually wrote it. Looks like a copyright mess to me.

And what about Orphan Works.

“These are works that are not available any more, and where it simply is not possible to find the copyright holder to seek out a license. Of course, this problem is almost entirely self-created. It’s the result of a forced switch from a system that required registration to get a copyright, to one where everything is automatically covered by copyright. Combine that with ever-expanding copyright terms and you have a recipe for a world in which the vast majority of works become “orphaned” while just a tiny few have any legitimate reason to remain under copyright protection. Millions of books, millions of photographs and hundreds of thousands of films are now considered orphaned works — unable to be either used or licensed — with many simply fading away.”

But if you listen to the copyright monopoly and their lobby groups, the world needs longer copyright terms and stronger enforcement. And yes, in order to protect the corporation, that’s exactly what Copyright needs, however in order to protect the artist, no, it’s exactly what they don’t need.

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One thought on “Enter Night, Exit Copyright

  1. You did your homework on this one. Well Done…
    Copyright and Ownership is huge just ask Def Leppard as they can’t get any of there 80s output on iTunes.
    Smartest man in the music biz I would have to say is Billy Squier who owns full control and has made a ton of cash due to Rappers sampling his drum beats and borrowing his music.

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