To remind the public, members of the music industry and U.S. legislators of the central role and rights of those who conceive and create music, ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) today officially launched a 'Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers.'
This awareness-building initiative centers around 10 core principles, including "We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate" and "We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used." (See full text of the Bill below and at www.ascap.com/rights/billText.aspx)
These rights, all of which are already inherent in the act of music creation and protected by U.S. copyright law, are increasingly under threat as competing interests argue over the future of the business of music -- and as growing numbers of individuals bypass payment altogether to illegally share music online.
"Given the many issues surrounding the music industry today, it can be all too easy to overlook the source of it all -- individual songwriters, lyricists and composers," said ASCAP President and Chairman and Academy Award-winning lyricist, Marilyn Bergman. "That is why ASCAP has launched this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers. Our goal is to remind lawmakers, the general public and music creators themselves of the rights that are inherent in their art. We simply cannot allow the original source of all music to be lost in the shuffle."
Developed by ASCAP to support and empower all those who create music, the 'Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers' debuted during ASCAP "I Create Music" Week at the 25th Annual Pop Music Awards held on April 9 and was also introduced to attendees of the third annual ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO (April 10-12). In just a few days, more than 500 signatures were collected including: Lionel Richie, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, Justin Timberlake, Desmond Child, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Chamillionaire, Keri Hilson, Johnta Austin and John Rzeznik.
These 500-plus signatures served as the kick-off to a grassroots campaign that, over the next few months, will collect signatures and support from both established and aspiring songwriters, lyricists and composers from all genres of musical compositions. Those who wish to add their support to the Bill can sign it electronically at www.ascap.com/rights.
As part of this initiative, ASCAP also wrote a perspective piece on the relevance and importance of music copyright protection, titled "Music Copyright in the Digital Age: A Position Paper" which may be viewed and downloaded from www.ascap.com/rights/billText.aspx
"The signatures that we collect on this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers will be shared with key legislators in Washington, as well as numerous other leaders both inside and outside the music industry," said ASCAP CEO John A. LoFrumento. "Now is the time to ensure that everyone who has a stake in determining the future of music, both as an art and as an industry, recognizes the importance of protecting creators' rights."
The full text of the 'Bill' follows below:
A Bill of Rights for Songwriters & Composers
Created by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Just as citizens of a nation must be educated about their rights to ensure that they are protected and upheld, so too must those who compose words and music know the rights that support their own acts of creation. Without these rights, which directly emanate from the U.S. Constitution, many who dream of focusing their talents and energies on music creation would be economically unable to do so -- an outcome that would diminish artistic expression today and for future generations.
At this time, when so many forces are seeking to diminish copyright protections and devalue artistic expression, this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers looks to clarify the entitlements that every music creator enjoys.
1. We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate.
2. We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used.
3. We have the right to withhold permission for uses of our works on artistic, economic or philosophical grounds.
4. We have the right to protect our creative works to the fullest extent of the law from all forms of piracy, theft and unauthorized use, which deprive us of our right to earn a living based on our creativity.
5. We have the right to choose when and where our creative works may be used for free.
6. We have the right to develop, document and distribute our works through new media channels -- while retaining the right to a share in all associated profits.
7. We have the right to choose the organizations we want to represent us and to join our voices together to protect our rights and negotiate for the value of our music.
8. We have the right to earn compensation from all types of "performances," including direct, live renditions as well as indirect recordings, broadcasts, digital streams and more.
9. We have the right to decline participation in business models that require us to relinquish all or part of our creative rights -- or which do not respect our right to be compensated for our work.
10. We have the right to advocate for strong laws protecting our creative works, and demand that our government vigorously uphold and protect our rights.