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New Music Licensing Bill May Harm Songwriters

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New Bill May Harm Songwriters

A new bill has been introduced to legislators that deals with music licensing and the ability of songwriters to get paid. The “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” was introduced by Wisconsin Senator Jim Sensenbrenner. Critics say the bill may actually end up harming songwriters who do not have the pockets of large corporate entities behind them.

David Lowery, writing for HypeBot, says

This bill is an attempt to take away the only thing that guarantees songwriters eventually get paid: The threat of a lawsuit. Most copyright infringement cases are heard in federal court.  In my experience you need a minimum of a quarter of million dollars to mount a case against an infringing corporate entity.   This section of the bill eliminates the legal fees and statutory damages.  Even if songwriters prevail in the case.   While major publishers may still be able to afford to litigate theses cases under these onerous circumstances , (and for complex reasons that’s a big maybe) individual songwriters and small music publishers will never be able to afford to sue again.

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Critics of the bill argue that copyright infringement against songwriters is already rampant in the current music landscape. This bill, they say, will make it “cost-effective” for companies to continue doing this on a mass scale.

Services like Google, Amazon and Spotify have reportedly filed mass “address unknown NOIs” with the copyright office representing 45 million different recordings. Essentially they are not paying out royalties because they claim the songwriters are “unknown.”

If the bill passes, opponents say individual songwriters may no longer be able to threaten legal action with any believability. This will essentially render them impotent and not being paid for their intellectual property.

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Omar Zulfi is a Hip-Hop artist, music producer and entrepreneur from Canada. He is the owner of Deviant Noise Inc. - a one-stop-resource for independent music artists, producers and songwriters - and an independent marketing consultant. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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