(l-r): ASCAP president/chairman of the board, Paul Williams; Irwin Z. Robinson, VP of industry affairs with Cromwell Music, co-chair of ASCAP’s Board Legislative Committee; Sandra Aistars, executive director of Copyright Alliance; Linda T. Sánchez, US Rep. (D-CA) and senior member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Photo: Mel Lambertby Mel Lambert | content-creators.com
Los Angeles, CA (May 2, 2011)--“Illegal downloads are digital theft, not piracy,” stated ASCAP president/chairman of the board Paul Williams during an impassioned discussion last Saturday at the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, held in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. “Describing it as ‘piracy’ makes is sound too romantic,” Williams considered.
The ASCAP chief executive and actor/songwriter was moderating a standing room-only session entitled Copyright Issues Facing Music Creators with co-panelists Irwin Z. Robinson, VP of industry affairs with Cromwell Music, chairman of National Music Publishers’ Association and co-chair of ASCAP’s Board Legislative Committee; Sandra Aistars, executive director of the Copyright Alliance; plus Linda T. Sánchez, US Representative (D-CA) and a senior member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet.
In this era of digital distribution of copyrighted works, Williams stressed, the ability for music creators to make a living from their work is being challenged by digital piracy and new business models that are not generating fair compensation--or any compensation--for songwriters and composers. “Record companies have lost control of their content,” said Robinson, “which contains our product,” a direct reference to the music and lyrics. “The Copyright Alliance speaks for a broad spectrum of content owners,” Aistars stressed, “including composers, artists” and other creative types.
“Recording artists and songwriters are a victim of their own success,” Sánchez offered, referring to the misconception that all composers are multimillionaires. “We need to remember that there are many [ordinary people] affected by our copyright efforts.”
Referring to the large number of adverse blogged reactions to Lily Allen’s pro-copyright campaign about illegal downloads – and the UK’s plans to disconnect alleged infringers from the Internet - Aistars offered that ���it is time we stepped up for people being slammed in the blogosphere. The Copyright Alliance’s One Voice network, with 8,000 members, has raised the matter on The Hill,” and offers a focus of support for recording artists.
The Copyright Alliance also supports efforts to put an end to offshore websites that illegally distribute music. “Legislation against rogue websites is working,” Aistars stated. “A new bill proposes to block internet access [for US users] to sites in Russia and China, for example, that offer illegal downloads.” The legislation will also impact credit-card companies that deal with such rogue sites and search engines that provide information about their content. (More information is available from http://artistsagainstdigitaltheft.com.)
Questions from the audience regarding YouTube payments and the Orphan Copyright Act brought interesting reactions from the panel. “Major music publishers have settled with YouTube,” Robinson explained, “whereby 12 percent of a dollar amount from advertisements surrounding the page [replaying copyright music]” will be paid to composers and songwriters. “The Orphan Copyright Act will affect composers,” Sánchez considered, “although its implementation is being complicated by the Google settlement with book publishers. But copyright is an opt-in and not an opt-out process,” indicating that composers and songsters have an inherent right to control the commercial exploitation of their work, without having to re-assert that ownership.