Saturday, May 17, 2008

Music Copyright in the Digital Age

To address the growing confusion and concern around music copyright, ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, published a position paper to demystify the basic rights of music creators. As the leading performing rights organization, ASCAP developed this position paper in support of their more than 320,000 members, in addition to all aspiring music creators who strive to make a living from their work.

Critical issues addressed in the position paper include:

-- Back to Basics: Defining a Right
What Is a Right?
Copyright Basics?
The Meaning of "Performing Rights"
The Role of the PRO
Copyright's Chain of Benefits

-- Are Rights Still Relevant in the Digital Age?
Two Sides of the Coin
Rights as a Creative Catalyst
Reviewing the "Digital Divide"
Profiting from Content -- The Expanding Debate
Questioning the "Commons"
Promoting Your Work Online

-- Information on ASCAP Itself
Who Is ASCAP and Who Are Its Members?
Who Owns ASCAP?
Who Is a Music Creator?
Who Are Music Publishers?

-- Addendum: "Setting the Record Straight: Questioning the Commons"
The position paper also includes a "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers," which has collected over 6,000 signatures in support to date online. This section serves as an advocacy and awareness-building initiative and urges all those associated with the music industry to remember and defend the rights of music creators. The "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers" debuted during ASCAP "I Create Music" Week (April 10-12) in Los Angeles. Centering around 10 core principles, the rights listed include, "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."

In addition to surpassing 6,000 signatures online, many prominent members of the music community have physically signed a special version of the "Bill," including: Lionel Richie, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, Justin Timberlake, Quincy Jones, Desmond Child, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Chamillionaire, Keri Hilson, Johnta Austin and John Rzeznik.

Both the full text of "Music Copyright in the Digital Age: A Position Paper" and the "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers" can be downloaded at

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