Music Publishers and Writers Lobbying Congress for Additional Compensation for Digital Distribution

CNET reports that a coalition of music groups including publishers, songwriters, and composers is looking to increase the compensation they receive from digital distribution of their work. Having been unsuccessful at negotiating increased fees with distributors such as Apple, the groups, which include the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) among others, have begun lobbying the U.S. Congress for to pass legislation to address their claims.

At a time when many iTunes shoppers are still fuming over Apple's first-ever increase in song prices, the demands by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), and other performing-rights groups, would likely lead to more price hikes at iTunes. This would also undoubtedly confirm the perception held by many that those overseeing the music industry are greedy.

At the heart of the issue is the "performance fee", a type of licensing fee used to compensate composers and publishers when their work is performed in public. The music groups argue that digital distribution of their work, including 30-second song samples and in TV and movie downloads such as those found on iTunes, constitutes public performance and thus requires performance fees to be paid by the distributors.

Apparently, the music industry can't obtain the fees through negotiations. They have begun lobbying Congress to pass legislation that require anyone selling a download to pay a performance fee, according to David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association.

"If you watch a TV show on broadcast, cable or satellite TV there is a performance fee collected," Israelite said. "But if that same TV show is downloaded over iTunes, there's not. We're arguing that the law needs to be clarified that regardless of the method by which a consumer watches the show there is a performance right."

The issue is complicated by the existence of other fees such as upfront "synchronization fees" that cover inclusion of songs in film or TV shows. Those fees are typically supplemented by performance fees when the film or TV shows are aired, although many composers have given away their synchronization fee rights in hopes of obtaining performance fees further down the road, but as the landscape has begun shifting to digital distribution, those composers are finding themselves with shrinking performance fee income.

"This is really a fight about the future," Israelite said. "As more and more people watch TV or movies over an Internet line as opposed to cable or broadcast signal, then we're going to lose the income of the performance. For people who do production and background music, that's how they make their living."

On the topic of 30-second music samples, Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association that represents distributors such as Apple, argues that copyright law protects distributors from being charged performance fees for such offerings.

"They are picking on Apple because they say Apple is making a bundle of money," Potter said. "But these companies should be thrilled that Apple and the other services are selling music and generating millions, maybe tens of millions, in royalties."

The music groups have so far had little success in their lobbying efforts with Congress, and courts have consistently sided with digital distributors in their claims that downloaded songs are not considered public performances. Composers and publishers have not, however, given up the fight.

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
apple account card

Wallet App Now Supports Apple Account Cards on iOS 15.5

Wednesday May 25, 2022 5:01 pm PDT by
Apple appears to have recently updated the Wallet app to allow users to add an Apple Account Card, which displays the Apple credit balance associated with an Apple ID. If you receive an App Store or Apple Store gift card, for example, it is added to an Apple Account that was previously visible in the App Store and Apple Store apps. As of today, the Apple Account balance can also be added to...
iphone 13 pro max display bleen

iPhone 14 Max Reportedly Weeks Behind Schedule [Updated]

Thursday May 26, 2022 7:25 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Max is currently behind schedule by around three weeks, according to Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu. Yesterday, Nikkei Asia reported that at least one iPhone 14 model was three weeks behind schedule due to the impact of lockdowns on Apple's supply chains in China, but it was not clear which iPhone 14 model this related to. Now, Pu has clarified that the model...
iPad Pro USB C Feature Coral

Deals: Apple's iPad Pro Reaches Up to $449 Off in Amazon's Latest Sales

Wednesday May 25, 2022 10:09 am PDT by
Amazon is marking down a wide variety of 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models this week, with prices starting as low as $749.00 for the 11-inch tablet. You'll find the full list of sales below, all of which can be found on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep...
iOS 16 mock for feature wishlist

iOS 16 Wishlist: Features MacRumors Readers Want to See in the Next Version of iOS

Friday May 27, 2022 2:15 pm PDT by
There's just over a week to go until the 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference, which is one of the biggest Apple events of the year. We've heard surprisingly little about iOS 16 this year, so we're in for some major surprises when June 6 rolls around. As we wait for the keynote event, we thought we'd share some iOS 16 wishlist items from MacRumors readers, because who knows? We just might...
top stories 28may2022

Top Stories: WWDC 2022 Schedule, New Apple Watch Pride Bands, and More

Saturday May 28, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
It's Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and that means WWDC is right around the corner and anticipation is building for what we might see at the opening keynote. Software updates are a given, but will we see any new hardware? Other news this week included the annual release of new Pride-themed Apple Watch bands, iPhone 14 Pro rumors, and Sony's latest headphones that compete against...
a16 5nm m2 3nm feature 2

Alleged Apple Chip Plans Suggest 'A16' Will Stick With 5nm, 'M2' to Make Jump to 3nm Instead

Friday May 27, 2022 6:54 am PDT by
The "A16" chip for the iPhone will reportedly be manufactured with the same process as the iPhone 13's A15 Bionic, with Apple saving a bigger performance leap for the "M2" chip designed for its next-generation Macs. Meanwhile, the company is working on a "final" M1 chip variant that uses more powerful cores from the A15, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In a thread on...