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Copyright Office Names Mechanical Licensing Collective

Ahead of schedule, the U.S. Copyright Office chooses who will run the MLC and recognizes the Academy's helpful input through the selection process

Advocacy/Jul 9, 2019 - 02:46 am

The day after Independence Day saw a surprise from the U.S. Copyright Office. In accordance with the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Office made its designation for the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), choosing Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc. (MLCI) to manage the new blanket mechanical license and handle royalty collection and distribution as established by the MMA. Under the statute, the designation was due on July 9.

The MLCI, the group submission led by led by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA), ultimately prevailed over a competing proposal known as the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC). In making the designation, the Copyright Office concludes that the "AMLC’s goals and principles are laudable, and its submission includes a number of ideas that should be given further consideration," but that ultimately "MLCI’s planning and organizational detail provide a more reliable basis for concluding that it will be able to meet the MLC’s administrative obligations." The MLC will begin issuing the new license in January 2021.

The 88-page Final Rule released by the Copyright Office also includes the designation for the Digital Licensing Coordinator (DLC), the entity that will represent the interests of the digital streaming services that use the new blanket license. Only one candidate, which includes representatives from Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Pandora, was submitted for consideration as the DLC.

Along with their ahead-of-schedule designation, the Copyright Office cited the Recording Academy's comments frequently in its Final Rule, noting how the Academy’s input informed its decision-making process. In the final analysis of the determination, the Copyright Office buttresses its conclusion by recognizing that “the Recording Academy, a rare organization to withhold endorsement until it was able to study each candidates' proposals, weighed in on the perceived capabilities of the two proposals, ultimately endorsing MLCI ‘upon careful consideration of both submissions.’ The Academy noted that MLCI’s 'submission embodies a thoughtful, meticulous, and comprehensive approach,' concluding that it was 'best equipped to satisfy' the duties of the MMA.”

The Copyright Office then followed the Academy’s lead, concluding that “[f]or somewhat similar reasons, the Copyright Office concludes that MLCI is better equipped to operationalize the many statutory functions required by the MMA.”

Earlier, the Final Rule notes the Academy’s specific interest in ensuring that the MLC conducts robust matching of song data with unclaimed funds, highlighting that the “Recording Academy urged the Register to seek further information on MLCI’s commitments to match works and on when such commitments may reasonably be exhausted.”

The Copyright Office affirms the preeminence of reliable data matching and the Final Rule details the commitments and assurances provided by the MLCI to accomplish that goal. The Office also establishes its interpretation of the MMA that unclaimed accrued royalties may be held beyond the statutory holding period until such funds are matched to the appropriate owners. Accordingly, unclaimed royalties can be released and distributed by the MLC no sooner than January 2023, but they can also be held longer to facilitate continued matching.

The Office also calls out the importance of a game plan for outreach from the MLC to make sure that every songwriter is fully informed about the new entity and its importance. Outreach to the songwriter community was also a key issue in the Academy's recommendations.

"The Recording Academy asserts that 'without an effective outreach program, the Collective will not succeed,'" the rule reads. "While noting that both proposals contain information regarding public outreach, the Recording Academy suggests that both are insufficiently detailed with respect to clear and executable plans, and how each will measure the effectiveness of outreach. The Office questioned each candidate about specific plans and metrics in subsequent meetings."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Copyright Office has designated entities to serve as the mechanical licensing collective and the digital licensee coordinator under the Music Modernization Act. <a href="https://t.co/8TSg9i8qfC">https://t.co/8TSg9i8qfC</a></p>&mdash; US Copyright Office (@CopyrightOffice) <a href="https://twitter.com/CopyrightOffice/status/1147158412016390146?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 5, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Ultimately, the Copyright Office was satisfied by the answers provided by MLCI in response to the questions the Academy put forward for consideration. Recording Academy chief industry government and member relations officer Daryl Friedman thanked those involved in the decision making for considering the Academy's stance and input. "The Recording Academy congratulates the MLC, Inc. on its selection to run the new Collective, and thanks the Copyright Office for its diligence in its selection process that reflects attentiveness to the Academy’s comments," Friedman said. "The Academy now looks forward to utilizing its Chapters and thousands of members to assist the MLC in songwriter outreach to ensure the Collective’s success."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Today&#39;s House Judiciary Committee hearing touched on crucial copyright matters such as setting up the MLC for success, passing the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CASEAct?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CASEAct</a>, and more.<a href="https://t.co/yhRmxWkKVw">https://t.co/yhRmxWkKVw</a></p>&mdash; GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) <a href="https://twitter.com/GRAMMYAdvocacy/status/1144082816256360448?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 27, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The MLC's success is important for everyone in the music community, but especially the songwriters who deserve fair, transparent compensation for their work. With the MLCI now primed to take over this significant role in implementing the MMA, the Academy stands ready to continue to leverage its community of music creators to support building a better system for all.

7 Ways To Support Music Creators On The 4th Of July
 

Taylor Hanson with Brothers Osborne at GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch in 2024
Taylor Hanson with Brothers Osborne at GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch in 2024

Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy

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How Newly Elected Recording Academy Trustees Are Involved In Advocacy: Dani Deahl, Taylor Hanson & More

Newly elected Recording Academy Trustees Dani Deahl, Taylor Hanson, Torae Carr, and Sara Gazerak have a history of advocacy for music people. Get to know them below.

Advocacy/Jun 5, 2024 - 09:25 pm

The Recording Academy's Board of Trustees has a history of being filled with members that are both passionate about making music and advocating for music creators. The newly elected slate of trustees is no exception and four of the new members continuously show their dedication to advocacy.

Those Trustees are Dani Deahl, Taylor Hanson, Torae Carr, and Sara Gazerak. They're four of a total of 19 leaders of diverse backgrounds and disciplines who have assumed their position on the 2024-2025 Board of Trustees.

Effective June 1, the newly elected Trustees joined the Academy's midterm Trustees, including National Officers Tammy Hurt (Chair), Dr. Chelsey Green (Vice Chair), Gebre Waddell (Secretary/Treasurer), and Christine Albert (Chair Emeritus).

Their mission is to uphold the Academy's core values: to serve and represent the music community at-large through its commitment to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, fight for creators' rights, protect music people in need, preserve music's history, and invest in its future.

About that fight for creator's rights, specifically: read on for these four Trustees' advocacy bona fides.

Dani Deahl

This prominent artist, DJ and producer previously served as the Recording Academy's Chicago Chapter Governor. She's also been a prolific advocate for music makers and the greater music industry. 

In March, Deahl testified in front of the Illinois House and Senate on HB 4875/SB 3325 alongside fellow Chicago Chapter member Jeff Becker. HB 4875/SB 3325 represents a crucial step towards modernizing Illinois's Right of Publicity Act for the AI era.

By granting additional enforcement rights and remedies, the bill was created to shield musicians from exploitation by generative AI systems. While existing copyright laws offer some protection, the amendments directly address gaps in safeguarding an artist's name, image, likeness, and voice.

Shortly after the Academy and Deahl's advocacy efforts in Springfield, HB 4875/SB 3325 passed through both the Illinois House and Senate and is with Governor J.B. Pritzker waiting to be signed into law.

On Friday, May 3, Deahl participated in the Recording Academy's Inaugural GRAMMYs on the Hill Future Forum. Designed to provide a space to explore the most pressing issues facing music, this momentous occasion served as a pivotal platform to delve into the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the music community. The afternoon consisted of a series of panel discussions curated to explore both the promise and the peril that AI presents to music makers.

Deahl joined GRAMMY nominated producer, emcee, vocalist, and thought leader, Kokayi, and Recording Academy's Chief Advocacy & Public Policy Officer, Todd Dupler, for the first panel of the afternoon. 

Throughout the discussion, Deahl demonstrated live how she ethically uses AI as a tool to enhance her music, including stem separation, voice or tone replacement, and song generation. Dani also attended and participated in the 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards and Advocacy Day.

Taylor Hanson

You know that surname: he's a former Texas Chapter President, three-time GRAMMY nominated artist and member of the band Hanson.

Last August, Recording Academy members of the Texas Chapter, including Taylor Hanson, headed to Oklahoma City to meet with state government officials to build up the relationship between the Oklahoma music community and state leaders.

Throughout the day, the group met with Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell and the Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, Jeanette Stanton, at the state's Capitol before heading to the Governor's Mansion.

During the meeting, they discussed the importance of the music community in Oklahoma, ways the state can continue to be involved in supporting the music community, and how the Recording Academy can be a resource for ensuring artists' voices are heard.

At the Governor's Mansion, Hanson participated in a panel with other Texas Chapter members on the Recording Academy and how Oklahoma Academy members and music creators can get involved. Specifically, the group highlighted the Recording Academy's District Advocate Day, which Hanson has been a vocal supporter of.

Taylor Hanson has participated in numerous District Advocate meetings, attended the 2024 GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch, and has also used his social platform to spread awareness about the Recording Academy's grassroots advocacy movements.

Torae Carr

On May 7, 2024, this rapper and former New York Chapter President joined other members of the Recording Academy's New York chapter and took to the state capitol in Albany. The purpose was to advocate for the passage of A 127, a crucial piece of legislation designed to safeguard the creative works of artists across New York.

Throughout the day, the group met with key members of the Assembly to express their support for the bill and highlight the crucial need to protect artistic freedom during legal proceedings.

At the time of the advocacy day, A 127 had already passed through the senate. Since then, it has been voted through the Assembly Codes Committee with the goal to be voted on in the Assembly in the coming days. 

Sara Gazerack

Gazerack isn't just a GRAMMY-winning jazz vocalist: she serves as one of the Los Angeles Chapter's Advocacy Representatives and most recently was a Los Angeles Chapter Governor.

This spring, Sarah joined some 60 GRAMMY winners, nominees, and Recording Academy executives in DC for GRAMMYs on the Hill. Sara met with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), and policy staff of Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA).

The Advocacy Day consisted of meetings with Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill and a visit to the White House for a roundtable discussion on  AI policy, ticket reforms, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the president's work on gun violence, before a special conversation with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The Recording Academy commends these Trustees for their commitment to advocacy for music people — and to follow their future work in this regard, keep checking RecordingAcademy.com/Advocacy for up-to-date info!

Illinois Passes AI Digital Replica Protections Law: What To Know About HB 4875

Jeff Becker, Senator Mary Edly-Allen and Dani Deahl
Jeff Becker, Senator Mary Edly-Allen and Dani Deahl

Photo courtesy of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus

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Illinois Passes AI Digital Replica Protections Law: What To Know About HB 4875

On Friday, May 24, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 4875, sending the bill to the Governor's desk to become law. Here's what that means for artistic protections for artists and individuals.

Advocacy/May 29, 2024 - 08:41 pm

The Illinois General Assembly is fighting the good fight to protect artists and individuals from unauthorized AI digital replicas.

On Friday, May 24, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 4875, sending the bill to the Governor's desk to become law. HB 4875, which unanimously cleared the state senate earlier in May, modernizes Illinois's existing Right of Publicity law to specifically address the challenges artists face from AI-generated creations and digital replicas.

Since the legislation's introduction by Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz and Senator Mary Edly-Allen the Recording Academy has been an advocate for the bill and how it establishes key safeguards and enforcement mechanisms to ensure an individual's identity is not misappropriated by generative AI. 

In April, members from the Recording Academy's Chicago Chapter went to the state capitol in Springfield for a state advocacy day in support of the bill. Immediately following that day of action, the bill cleared the House of Representatives for the first time and was sent to the Senate for further action. 

And earlier this year, in March, Recording Academy Chicago Chapter Board Members Jeff Becker and Dani Deahl testified in support of the legislation during hearings in the House and Senate. Their testimonies laid the foundation to pass the bill, bringing needed attention and support from state lawmakers. 

"As we embrace AI's potential, we must also be prepared for the risks it presents that are already here. The clearest example of these risks is the ability of AI to steal people's images and voices," Deahl testified. "I myself have had the unsettling experience of hearing my voice replicated by AI, delivering messages I never endorsed. This violation of identity is a profound invasion of personal autonomy."

Once signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois will become the second state in the nation to proactively protect creators from having their likeness replicated without permission by generative AI. In March, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed the ELVIS Act into law to become the first state. The Recording Academy worked closely with the Governor, Tennessee legislators, and other stakeholders in the passage of the groundbreaking law.

The Recording Academy is also prioritizing federal protections to confront this growing threat to human creativity. During this year's GRAMMYs on the Hill, GRAMMY winners and nominees came to Washington, D.C. to urge Members of Congress to support the House's No AI FRAUD Act and the Senate's NO FAKES Act. Both bills would establish similar protections to Illinois's HB 4875. 

For more information on how the Recording Academy continues to fight for artists' rights, keep checking our Advocacy page at recordingacademy.com.

The House Of Representatives Has Passed The TICKET Act: Here's What You Need To Know

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Lauren Daigle and Tammy Hurt in a GOTH meeting with Congressman Moran

Photo: Leigh Vogel

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The House Of Representatives Has Passed The TICKET Act: Here's What You Need To Know

This legislative success for music fans comes just two short weeks after the Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, and passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

Advocacy/May 17, 2024 - 09:32 pm

In an exciting step forward for the music community, the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3950, the Transparency In Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 388-24. This legislative success comes just two short weeks after the Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day.

During the GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, over sixty GRAMMY winners, nominees, and Recording Academy executives met with members of Congress to push for ticketing reform, including the House's TICKET Act and the Senate's Fans First Act. Throughout the day, the artist advocates told lawmakers how the broken ticket marketplace impacts their daily lives. Among the group was 2-time GRAMMY winner, Lauren Daigle, who detailed her experiences with bots and resellers driving up ticket prices, emphasizing the impact it has on the individuals hoping to purchase tickets to her shows. These conversations highlighted the importance of protecting the human connection that live music fosters between artists and fans and the clear need for ticket reforms to be passed by congress.

The House-passed TICKET Act brings transparency to the ticketing marketplace by implementing all-in pricing and takes major steps toward ending the harmful practices of speculative ticketing and deceptive websites. The bill, which also guarantees refunds for event cancellations, denotes serious progress in the fight to improve the ticketing marketplace.

The Recording Academy urges the Senate to seize this moment and pass S. 3457, the Fans First Act. The Fans First Act builds upon the House TICKET Act by strengthening its provisions against speculative ticketing and deceptive websites and improving price transparency by not only requiring all-in pricing, but mandating upfront itemization so fans know what they're paying for from the start. The Fans First Act also increases consumer protection by strengthening the BOTS Act and the FTC's ability to enforce any violations.

Upon its passage, Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason Jr. expressed gratitude for the bipartisan support and the swift movement of the TICKET Act through the House.

"Today's passage of the TICKET Act by the House of Representatives marks a significant step forward toward improving the concert ticket marketplace. The TICKET Act was a key focus of GRAMMYs on the Hill two weeks ago, and the Recording Academy thanks our Congressional leaders for bringing the bill to a vote shortly after meeting with Academy members.

We now urge the Senate to act quickly to incorporate the strong provisions contained in the Fans First Act and move a comprehensive ticket reform package that will provide transparency and protect artists and their fans. 

The passage of the TICKET Act represents a critical step toward dismantling the predatory practices that undermine this connection. It is a crucial step toward ensuring a more equitable and sustainable marketplace. The legislation not only benefits consumers but also safeguards the livelihoods of artists who depend on fair ticket sales. Its passage proves the power of advocacy and the importance of legislative action in preserving the special bond between artists and their audiences.

As we look forward to the Senate's taking further action on ticketing reform, the Recording Academy will continue to fight for a fairer, more equitable ticketing marketplace that ensures the connection between music makers and fans remains strong and untainted.   

Inside The New York Chapter's Advocacy For The Passage Of A. 127 — How It'd Help Protect Artistic Freedom

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Photo: Lauren Loverde

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Inside The New York Chapter’s Advocacy For The Passage Of A. 127 — How It’d Help Protect Artistic Freedom

At the heart of A.127 is the protection of artistic freedom during legal proceedings. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, seeks to create standards for when an artist's creative work may be used in criminal trials.

Advocacy/May 15, 2024 - 03:30 pm

On Tuesday, May 7, members of the Recording Academy’s New York chapter took to the state capitol in Albany. Their mission? To advocate for the passage of A.127, a crucial piece of legislation designed to safeguard the creative works of artists across New York.

At the heart of A.127 is the protection of artistic freedom during legal proceedings. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, seeks to create standards for when an artist's creative work may be used in criminal trials. If enacted into law, this measure would be a significant step towards ensuring that creators can express themselves freely without fear of their work being weaponized against them.

During the Albany Advocacy Day, Recording Academy advocates held meetings with the Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, Codes Chairman, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Assembly sponsor, Catalina Cruz, along with key members of the Assembly Codes Committee including, Gary Pretlow, Andrew Hevesi, Linda B. Rosenthal, John Zaccaro, Jr., Kenneth Zebrowski. In addition to these meetings, Recording Academy members met with Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, the powerful Assembly Black, Hispanic, and Puerto Rican Caucus, and the Assembly Codes Staff. Many key Senators stopped by meetings to reiterate their support for the legislation, including Senate sponsor and Codes Chair, Jamaal Bailey.

Advocates included New York Chapter President Torae Carr, iconic rap artist and producer Papoose, producer and composer Ray Angry, and CEO of 300 Entertainment Kevin Liles. Additionally, Granville Mullins, GRAMMY Nominated Songwriter/Musician, Nathaniel Reichman, GRAMMY Nominated Producer/Mixer, Cassandra Kubinski, Singer/Songwriter, William Derella, Artist Manager and Lynn Gonzalez, Partner, Granderson Des Rochers, LLP were in attendance.

While leaving Albany, Papoose shared an impassioned plea to his followers on Instagram to support the effort.

Just one week later, on May 14, the Assembly Codes Committee advanced the bill out of committee to the Rules Committee, Chaired by the Speaker, priming it for full consideration by the Assembly in the coming weeks.

One of the key issues Academy advocates highlighted in their meetings regarding A.127 is the disproportionate impact that the current practices have on certain communities, particularly Black and Brown artists, who often find their work unfairly scrutinized and misinterpreted in legal settings. While the legislation is not genre-specific, it acknowledges the historical targeting of hip hop and rap artists and seeks to rectify this by requiring prosecutors to show the relevance and admissibility of creative works in court.

The significance of A.127 cannot be overstated, particularly in a state as culturally rich and economically influential as New York. The music industry is a large part of the state's economy, providing over 200,000 jobs and contributing close to $20 billion to its GDP. With a vibrant community of 129,000 songwriters, New York needs to enact this critical legislation that will protect the state's music community.

The Recording Academy’s continued advocacy for A.127 only further highlights the Academy’s dedication to protecting the rights of music creators and upholding the fundamental principles of free expression. As the bill moves forward, it is essential for lawmakers to recognize the importance of protecting creative freedom and ensure that New York remains a beacon of artistic expression.

Inside The Inaugural GRAMMYs On The Hill Future Forum, Exploring The Impact Of AI On The Music Community