The ongoing dispute between the streaming services Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and YouTube Music about the remuneration rules for bands and artists is entering the next round.
In an open letter, stars such as Don Henley from the Eagles, Sheryl Crow, Sting and hundreds of other prominent musicians support a new copyright regulation in the world’s largest music market, the USA.
In the future, this should ensure that songwriters who have regained control of their music (e.g. by terminating old contracts) really do receive their streaming royalties in full.
As “Billboard” and other music media have been reporting since autumn 2022, the “US Copyright Office” wants to overturn a regulation passed by the so-called “Mechanical Licensing Collective”. Critics fear the change could have a bizarre outcome: Even if an author exercises their right to terminate to regain control of their songs, the royalties could continue to flow to the legacy music publishers, who no longer formally own them.
In a letter last Thursday (January 5, 2023), coordinated by the Music Artists Coalition, more than 350 artists, songwriters, managers and music lawyers called on the US Copyright Office to finally approve the proposed rule authorize. The collective warned that “musicians must not be deprived of the rights afforded to them by copyright law”.
A self-portrayal by the US agency states: “For over 150 years, the ‘Copyright Office’ has been at the forefront of US copyright law. Part of the Library of Congress since 1870 and recognized by Congress as a separate division of the Library since 1897, the Copyright Office registers copyright claims, collects information about copyright owners, makes information available to the public, and assists Congress and other parts of Congress the government on a variety of simple and complex copyright issues.”
The creative initiative is now taking to the barricades against this authority, which is important for all artists – especially in times of digital marketing:
The open letter said any opposition to the proposed new rule would be “a vote against songwriters.”
“We unequivocally and collectively support the ‘USCO’ rule and believe that to do otherwise would undermine Congress’ clear intention to allow songwriters to derive benefit from the songs they create over an extended period of time,” they write Signatories to the Copyright Office.
“It’s quite simple: A songwriter who effectively terminates a previous license is the right recipient of royalties,” it explains. “A publisher whose license has been terminated – and who has benefited from the songwriter’s work for decades – is not the proper or intended recipient of those royalties.”
Thursday’s letter was also signed by Bob Seger, Maren Morris, John Mayer, Dave Matthews and many others. It came out right on the deadline day of the so-called “comment period” for outside groups to give their opinion on the proposed Copyright Office rule.
Different rules apply in Germany and other European countries. Nevertheless, the local music scene is watching developments in the USA with eagle eyes.