Music Artists, Industry Petition Congress for DMCA Reform20 Jun, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
A coalition of music artists, including Taylor Swift, U2, Gwen Stefani, Pearl Jam, Katy Perry and industry groups, June 20 sent a letter to Congress advocating reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Specifically, the letter says the DMCA has wreaked havoc on the livelihood of artists and music industry since its passage in 1998.
The letter calls for Congress to find a more equitable balance between the interests of music creators and the interests of the companies who use the DMCA to allegedly exploit music for their financial benefit.
Observers contend the issue targets Google’s YouTube, the world’s largest social media platform. YouTube has used the DMCA, which safeguards digital services and ISPs from copyright infringement liability, to enable users to stream third-party music without compensation to artists, according to the coalition.
Indeed, video copyright infringement — largely by YouTube users — was the crux of Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against Google in 2007. That drawn out case was settled in 2014.
The Congressional letter is not about piracy, but rather the emergence of a marketplace whereby music artists and industry groups claim they cannot make a living selling their digital music.
The coalition says the DMCA was passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date, and allows major tech companies to generate profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish.
“Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies earned by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted,” read the letter.
“In all my years, this is the only time I can remember everyone — artists, songwriters, managers, labels, publishers — agreeing and collectively calling for change,” Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, said in a statement.
Cohesion is important as music labels prepare to renew content license agreements with YouTube. Indeed, in comments to Re/code.net, Azoff appeared to suggest that renewing status quo license agreements with YouTube would undermine the intent of the coalition.
“If you’re one of the big labels, and you continue to do business with YouTube the way you currently have, that’s a bad sign for all the people who signed that letter.”