×

Music Community Registers Approval for Copyright Bill

A chorus of cheers went up from the music community with Wednesday’s congressional approval of a bill that aims to create an independent copyright office and reinforce the rights of content creators.

H.R. 1695, “The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act,” is expected to encounter no significant opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it will be voted on before going to the president’s desk. The bill passed the House of Representatives 378-48. Naysayers included 46 Democrats, among them minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Zoe Lofgren, whose districts are San Francisco and San Jose, respectively.

“Copyright is a Republican issue,” said entertainment attorney Dina LaPolt (Britney Spears, Steven Tyler), who has lobbied energetically for the bill. “They see it as private property rights.” Democrats tend to view it as “information wants to be free,” the so-called Silicon Valley approach that has pitted techs against creatives in a heated legislative battle.

Following several bills that had languished, H.R. 1695 is the first step in what the songwriters hope will be a decisive march toward copyright reform under the Trump administration. Revisiting the compulsory license rules that force artists to sell their songs for fees set by the government is also on the radar.

“Songwriters are small business owners,” LaPolt said. “The fact that 75% of their income is regulated by the government means that they might not be able to earn a living from their craft, and that is sad.”

The bill calls for removing copyright oversight from the Library of Congress and vesting it in an independent agency, run by a presidential appointee with a 10-year term limit and confirmed by the Senate. Such a move would put copyright on par with patents and trademarks, which have their own agency, the Patent and Trademark Office. It would also give copyright a more authoritative voice in guiding its future.

Currently the top copyright position – the register of copyrights – reports to the Librarian of Congress, who has hiring and firing authority and has since 1870. To some, the the idea of a librarian controlling copyright is at odds with the interests of intellectual property owners. “Librarians want everybody to have everything,” LaPolt said.

National Music Publishers Assn. President and CEO David Israelite was among those commending the bill’s passage. “At a time when creators constantly must defend their rights, it is critical that the register of copyrights is chosen carefully and vetted properly,” he said in a statement following the vote. “Copyright touches every industry and every person, and this bill is a good step towards ensuring the person advising Congress and helping determine policy for songwriters, artists and all creators is the best person for the job.”

Likewise, Songwriters of North America (SONA), which last year hired LaPolt to sue the U.S. Justice Department to try to overturn the 76-year-old compulsory license law, applauded the bill’s progress. “Today was a great step forward for music creators in the effort for copyright reform,” said Kay Hanley, co-executive director of SONA and the frontwoman of 1990s alt-pop band Letters To Cleo. “We still have a long way to go, but this is a great first step.”

More Music

  • Woodstock 50's Latest Plea Denied by

    Woodstock 50's Latest Plea Denied Unanimously by Town of Vernon

    The light is quickly fading on Woodstock 50, which in its latest plea to the town of Vernon, New York, was rejected in its effort to secure a permit to hold the three-day concert at Vernon Downs. The Syracuse area venue with a capacity of 35,000 was the most recent proposed site for the troubled [...]

  • Beyonce-HOMECOMING-Netflix

    Beyoncé, Sara Bareilles Vie for First Emmys as Ramin Djawadi Looks to Reclaim Throne

    Beyoncé and Sara Bareilles could add Emmy trophies to their awards shelves this year, having been nominated in key music categories Tuesday by the Television Academy. Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” special on Netflix was nominated in six categories, and four of those include a nod for the pop superstar herself. Only one of those is in a [...]

  • LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet

    LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet Dermot McCormack President

    Live entertainment digital media company LiveXLive Media today announced that AOL and MTV veteran Dermot McCormack has been named president of the company. According to the announcement, McCormack will lead the business and creative operations of LiveXLive, effective immediately. McCormack previously served as AOL’s Global President of Video and Studios, where he oversaw the video [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    R. Kelly Ordered Held Without Bail

    R. Kelly has been ordered held without bond at a hearing Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The singer entered a not-guilty plea. The hearing, which follows the singer being hit Friday with a total of 18 counts of serious sexual misconduct and other charges in Chicago and New York, [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Emmy Queen Bey? Beyonce's 'Homecoming' Lands

    Beyoncé's 'Homecoming' Documentary Lands Six Emmy Nominations

    It’s going to be a busy awards season for Beyonce. She could be up for Grammys or Oscars in the next six months, but she’s already made a splash with the fresh crop of Emmy nominations. Her documentary/concert movie “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” has been nominated for six Emmys, and a win in most [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content