Sole Source Licensing For Indies?
As "Uncle Frank" (Zappa) used to sing, "The Torture Never Stops." Those who have been following articles here will realize that the technology for making artists truly independent is already here and being employed in more unique ways than we could ever have imagined (just) 5 years ago. If the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) and NMPA (National Music Publishers Association, Inc) have their way, things will stay pretty much "status quo!"
In an October 12, 2000 press release, the RIAA announced "that it has launched a new project to develop a standardized system for identifying digital files of sound recordings." I don't believe that anyone would argue that artists need better ways to collect revenues from sales, distribution and performance/airplay of their digital product (not this artist, anyway), but tend to agree with the folks at The Future Of Music Coalition (FMC), who said in their own press release, on October 16th, that the U.S. Copyright Office (as well as artists, I assume) need "to be wary of efforts by the RIAA to establish themselves as the sole and exclusive collection agent for digital performance royalties for sound recordings." Wary indeed!
Since I've been associated with U.S. Government systems for so long (around 30 years total), it's clear to me that this is just another case of legislation failing to catch up with technology. If we were to leave it to (just) RIAA and/or NMPA, it would become another "sinkhole" for legalisms, & artists would never realize any benefit from it.
FMC's executive director, Jenny Toomey, referring to the leader of the RIAA's effort (John Simson), stated that ""we simply do not see how the RIAA could be successful in simultaneously representing artists and independent labels at the same time that it is a trade organization for the major record labels. We have already been contacted by artists and smaller labels who have expressed concern about a proposed government policy that could concentrate extraordinary power in one sector of the private economy. The RIAA is not the entire music industry, it is funded by and solely represents the interests of the five major record labels." FMC has proposed a third-party collective that would be entrusted with the task of collecting Digital Performance Royalties for Sound Recordings and other monies for parties other than the five major recording labels.
When you stop and think about it, what is really needed is a digital means for the artist to collect their royalties directly, without the potential for any group to control distribution of those funds, and it's already here. Earlier articles about technology from Gotchaport.com (and others) that will permit the artist to "wrap" each digitized tune with permissions layers for play and record. An additional layer could be embedded that automatically billed anyone who aired the tune. This might entail some additional work on the artists' part, since there would probably need to be a "release" version and an "airplay" version of each tune... but it would be time well spent for the artist! Ultimately, it would be what independent artists have dreamed of for years... the ability to control their own music!
It remains to be seen, of course, if organizations like FMC can help turn the tide "for" the artist! We will continue to bring you the latest in the "Sole Source Wars." Stay tuned!
Gotchaport - www.gotchaport.com
NMPA - www.nmpa.org
RIAA - www.riaa.com
FMC - www.futureofmusic.org
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