Progress should not diminish our royalties

From Techdirt:

Music Publishers, Songwriters To Congress: Our Royalties Should Be Guaranteed, No Matter What The Market Says (Say That Again)

by Michael Masnick from the songs-from-luddites dept on Friday, October 9th, 2009 @ 8:50AM

In digging deeper into the request from music publishers and songwriters’ representatives after they started demanding performance royalties for the 30-second previews in iTunes, Greg Sandoval was able to get a copy of the letter that was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning copyright laws from the National Music Publishers Association, ASCAP, BMI and the Songwriters Guild. Reading the quotes is stunning, in that you could basically paraphrase them as saying “we are luddites — do not let technology change the way the world works.” Here’s one quote:

“Technology should not be used to strip rights from songwriters, composers and music publishers. The choice of certain audiovisual delivery systems or methods over others should not result in a diminution of creators’ rights or royalties.”


Read that one carefully. They are saying that as technology changes, and as the market changes, their royalties should never be allowed to drop. Notice that they’re not taking responsibility for adapting to a changing market. They’re not saying that they need to adjust and put in place smarter business models. No, they’re saying that Congress somehow needs to guarantee that no matter what happens in the market, their royalties remain the same.

What’s really revealing is that this quote highlights the fact that these representatives view their royalties as “rights” to be protected — not revenue to be earned.

No wonder they’re lashing out and doing all sorts of ridiculous stuff like trying to get extra royalties on embedded videos, ringtones and 30 second previews. These are the same groups that have publicly decided they need to try to start a PR campaign against people who are trying to protect user rights and fair use. Since that time, we’ve noticed various people associated with ASCAP and the Songwriters Guild putting up various blogs attacking copyright skeptics in the most ridiculous ways. There’s one, which isn’t worth pointing out, where a lawyer who works with these groups regularly mocks Larry Lessig, William Patry, Michael Geist and myself — using nicknames and making up fanciful stories about us. It’s the sort of activity you’d expect from a 12-year-old.

It looks like these groups simply feel entitled to having the government force everyone to hand over money. Songwriters who belong to these organizations are being led down a dangerous path. It seems like there’s room in the market for groups to represent songwriters’ interests without being anti-fan or anti-technology. Quite clearly, ASCAP, BMI, NMPA and the SGA do not fall into that category. Instead, they’re pretending that the world owes them money just for existing, and they’re going to lash out anyone who tries to suggest otherwise.


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