ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams has urged Congress in the US to protect songwriter’s rights and preserve the value of voluntary collective licensing as it considers ways to reform music licensing.

Williams, an award-winning songwriter himself, gave his testimony before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet earlier this week.

The US Copyright Office has just begun a study on the effectiveness of current existing licensing methods, while the US Department of Justice has opened a review of the Consent Decrees that govern the nation’s two leading performance rights organisations (PROs), ASCAP and BMI.

Williams outlined three specific updates to the 73-year-old Consent Decree for the Department of Justice to consider: allowing ASCAP to accept a partial grant of rights from its members, meaning ASCAP is able to license certain uses while the rights-holders handle others directly; replacing rate court with a faster, less expensive dispute resolution process; permitting ASCAP to offer all the rights in a music composition a licensee needs to operate their business – something that ASCAP’s competitors are free to do.

Williams said: “We are here today because technology is changing the world in wonderful ways. We are moving into a world where people no longer own the music they love, they stream it whenever and wherever they want.

“At the same time, the federal regulations that govern how music is licensed – and thus, how songwriters, like me, are compensated for our work – don’t reflect the way people listen to music today. Indeed, they are stuck in the distant past. And it’s threatening the very future of American music.

“We need a music licensing system that works the way we will be, not – to paraphrase a great songwriter and friend – the way we were.”

Fonte: MusicWeek

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