By Phil Galdston & David Wolfert
“ANY LAW OF THIS KIND MUST FIRST AND FOREMOST PROTECT THE WORK’S CREATOR AND OWNER, NOT THE ADMINISTRATOR.”
The Music Modernization Act (MMA) is a huge piece of copyright legislation that would shape the way music creators are paid for the foreseeable future. As songwriters, composers and independent publishers, we join many of our colleagues in expressing our appreciation for the efforts of legislators and members of our community to find solutions to the serious problems facing music creators.
The MMA offers some true and constructive change, and we can accept the “grand bargain” that is its foundation: In return for a kind of immunity for past acts of infringement, digital music services would now pay for every single performance of every track, identified or not. That said, some crucial elements of the bill are of concern and some remain unresolved.
The developing trend in music writing, publishing and distribution is towards independence and market fragmentation. Instead of acknowledging and addressing this trend, the legislation embraces and enshrines some of the old practices of the music business. Today, tens of thousands of music creators control their own work, its exploitation and its administration, eschewing the old paradigms and larger institutions of the music business. So any law of this kind must first and foremost protect the work’s creator and owner, not the administrator. Here are some specific points we think merit clarification and amendment.