ASCAP members lobby Congress to reform licensing laws

ASCAP members lobby Congress to reform licensing laws

One week after the Fair Play Fair Pay Day, which saw performing artists lobbying Congress for performance rights on sound recordings, US songwriters will be walking today (May 18) the corridors of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to advocate for important reforms to what they describe as "outdated federal music licensing laws and regulations".

At the instigation of US performance rights organisation the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), a delegation of songwriters -- including Khari Cain (Needlz), Savan Kotecha, Dan Foliart, Wayland Holyfield, Dean Kay, James Kendrick, Leeds Levy, Irwin Z. Robinson, Alex Shapiro, Paul Williams, and Doug Wood -- will meet with elected officials as part of ASCAP's annual “Stand with Songwriters” Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

High on the agenda is the reform of the Consent Decree with the Department of Justice that rule ASCAP since 1941 and that have not been updated to reflect the licensing challenges of the digital era. The DoJ has initiated in 2015 a review of the Consent Decrees. ASCAP members will invite policy-makers to support changes to ASCAP’s Consent Decree in a way that that would enable it to accept a limited grant of rights from its members and permit ASCAP to license all of the rights in a music composition (performance and mechanicals) in one transaction.

They will also promote the bipartisan Songwriter Equity Act, which would amend two outdated portions of the US Copyright Act that prevent songwriters from earning a fair market royalty rate when their music is streamed or downloaded.

Participants to the initiative will bring with them several “#StandWithSongwriters petition guitars” signed by a sampling of ASCAP’s more than 575,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members such as Erica Campbell, Pat Benatar, LaShawn Daniels, James Fauntleroy, Nate Ruess (of fun.), OMI and Adam Schlesinger.

“We’re asking policy-makers to stand with songwriters at a time when our future livelihoods and the future of American music are both in jeopardy,” said ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams. "Streaming has vastly changed music listening habits but licensing laws haven’t kept up with the way people consume music today, so songwriters are struggling. ASCAP is on the frontlines fighting for meaningful music licensing reform to ensure songwriters can continue writing the next great song, but we can’t do it alone. We’re asking legislators to recognise that songwriters deserve laws which enable them to be paid fairly for the use of their music.”

The meetings will follow with “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress, sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation. The event will features performances by ASCAP members Brian McKnight, Monica, Brett James, MoZella, Priscilla Renea, Randy Goodrum, Desmond Child and Jennifer Higdon who will be introduced by Members of Congress.

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