Getting the Government Out of Songwriting: Voluntary Licenses Should Replace Consent Decrees or Compulsory Licenses

MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

[Editor Charlie sez, this article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.]

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is holding a useful series of thought provoking hearings before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet reviewing the current state of the U.S. Copyright Act. The most recent hearing in this series was on September 18, entitled “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the U.S. Intellectual Property System“.

This is a very important subject to songwriters. It is not widely known that songwriters are highly regulated by the government through two primary mechanisms — the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees dating from the middle of the last century and the compulsory mechanical license dating from 1909. The Congress should consider abandoning both in favor of voluntary licenses.

Terminate the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI each grant blanket licenses for the exclusive right to publicly perform…

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