February 25, 2014 - "Songwriter Equity Act" Strikes the Wrong Chord

DiMA: The “Songwriter Equity Act” Strikes the Wrong Chord

(Washington, D.C.) – Gregory Alan Barnes, General Counsel to the Digital Media Association, issued the following statement in response to the introduction of the “Songwriter Equity Act of 2014” by U.S. Representative Doug Collins (R-GA):

“The Digital Media Association (“DiMA”) is deeply disappointed by today’s introduction of the “Songwriter Equity Act of 2014.”  While proclaiming to promote “equity,” the legislation promises to do little more than drive-up the cost that consumers have to pay to legally purchase and stream  music online.  This change comes at a time when pirated music sites unfortunately continue to serve as a viable alternative to legitimate online services and the recent growth in music download sales seems to have leveled off.

Even more troubling is the particular rate-setting standard that the bill seeks to impose on online music stores.  The proposal intends to throw out an established standard that has served songwriters, performers and digital services alike for decades, and jump to the “willing buyer-willing seller” standard – as it’s commonly referred to – which has been a dismal failure in the Internet radio business since its inception.  Over the course of its short lifespan, this standard has resulted in findings so troubling that Congress felt compelled to remedy with legislative action every time it has been applied.  It has driven many of the largest service providers out of business, leaving only a handful of key players still operating within the industry.

Developing thoughtful legislation in this extremely complex area of copyright law requires more than the advancement of quick fix solutions proffered by select interest groups, without consideration of the broader, long-term effects on an entire industry, the economy and consumers.

As today's legislation makes its way through the House Judiciary Committee, we look forward to working with the bill's sponsors  - as well as other Members of Congress - to develop a truly balanced solution that benefits consumers, online distributors and the countless number of individuals who dedicate their careers to creating music."