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Music Clubs Get To Set Their Own Royalty Rates?

from the protecting-artists-rights? dept

We already know that all this talk from the recording industry about how they’re really out to “protect the livelihood of musicians” is a lie. Musicians seem to be figuring out that they can do just fine without the traditional recording industry behind them. It’s all about protecting the industry behind making plastic discs. However, to help highlight this fact, take a look at a new settlement that has been proposed between music clubs (owned by the record labels) and songwriters. The clubs, such as BMG and Columbia House, send out CDs to millions of people who are supposed to send them back if they don’t want them, or keep them and pay a fee. Apparently, those clubs have been underpaying songwriters (75% of the going rate) on the mandated royalties set by federal law. Some songwriters sued over this and worked out a “settlement.” The problem, though, is that the settlement doesn’t just impact those three songwriters — but completely changes the process by which these music clubs get to license songs. They don’t need to get permission at all. They just need to post the songs they want to use on a website for 30 days with whatever royalty rate they think is fair. If the publisher of the music doesn’t happen to spot songs he or she has the right to within those 30 days, too bad. The music club gets to use the music, no matter what rate they set. In other words, they could make it a tiny fraction of the legally set rate. Meanwhile, as Ernest Miller points out, internet radio and podcasters are having difficulties getting the recording industry to give them reasonable license rates to use in their shows. How about they get the same deal? Let them post the songs they want to use, and a rate they’re willing to pay for 30 days and if no one objects — let them use it. If it’s fair for the recording industry who runs all of these clubs, shouldn’t it be fair for everyone else?

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Comments on “Music Clubs Get To Set Their Own Royalty Rates?”

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1 Comment
Victorlee says:


Man I was so mad when I read your piece, I almost dropped my laptop! As a member of ascap I can’t help but wonder why the **** they haven’t done or said anything about this! ASCAP is supposed to be the advocate for us songwriters and publishers, but yet they have not alerted us to this in any Ascap publication to members nor on the site. C’mon Ascap are you asleep at the wheel or did I just not get the memo!

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