NMPA Statement on Introduction of the Songwriter Equity Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2014

Statement from NMPA President and CEO David Israelite on Introduction of the Songwriter Equity Act

“The Songwriter Equity Act represents an important step to inject fairness into a process that is undeniably stacked against songwriters and publishers, and I applaud Congressmen Collins and Jeffries for their leadership on the issue.

Roughly two-thirds of a songwriter’s income is heavily regulated by law or through outdated government oversight. This results in devalued intellectual property rights. This legislation addresses two significant inequities under current copyright law that prevent songwriters and music publishers from receiving compensation that reflects the fair market value of their work.

Created before the existence of recorded music to regulate piano rolls for player pianos, Section 115 of the Copyright Act is shorthand for a complex compulsory license system that dates back to 1909. This system effectively prohibits songwriters and music publishers from negotiating for the use of their songs, forcing well-below market rates instead of fair value.

In 1909, Congress set a rate of 2 cents per copy. Today, more than 100 years later, that rate has increased to only 9.1 cents. The incremental increase is a result of the Copyright Royalty Board, or CRB, legal obligation to apply a below-market standard when determining mechanical royalties for songwriters and music publishers.

Section 114(i) was enacted by Congress to protect songwriters and ensure that their compensation was not unfairly diminished. But the effect of the provision has, in fact, been the exact opposite. This legislation would help restore what Congress originally intended – fair compensation for the public performance of a songwriter’s work. It allows the federal rate court to consider rates paid to recording artists for the performance of sound recordings over digital platforms – evidence that the court is currently prohibited by law from considering.

I fear that without the Songwriter Equity Act, songwriting as a profession will give to way songwriting as a hobby, and an important American treasure will be in jeopardy.”

About NMPA: Founded in 1917, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is the trade association representing American music publishers and their songwriting partners. The NMPA’s mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and songwriters in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights.