At this time when so many forces are seeking to diminish copyright protections and devalue artistic expression, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has introduced a “Bill of Rights” for all songwriters and composers.
Says ASCAP president/chairperson Marilyn Bergman, "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. Our goal is to remind lawmakers, the general public and music creators themselves of the rights that are inherent in their art.”
The ASCAP Bill of Rights includes:
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.
Meanwhile, Toronto singer/songwrIter Andrew Cash, co-founder of Canadian Music Creators Coalition, weighs in with an authoritative assessment of issues facing Canadian creators today in an informative interview in the current issue of Exclaim! Magazine with Allison Outhit. Here’s a segment.
Allison: “How are artists going to get a seat at the distribution table? Will the CMCC play a part?”
Andrew: “We don’t even have an office or a telephone number! But that touches on an important issue, which is representation of artists in the new age of the music business.
“Let’s be frank: artists have never been represented to their benefit fully or equally in the music business. The history of the music business is littered with 1001 tales of highway robbery of artists.
“Someone said the music business is a great place to get rich but a lousy place to make a living. It’s feast or famine.
“Now there’s an opportunity for a middle class of artists, which is very exciting. How is that going to evolve? It would require a lot of attention by some organization that has musicians’ interests in mind. But trying to get musicians together is like herding cats. That’s a problem that goes very deep into the psyche of the business.
“Musicians are, on one hand, supposed to be blissfully ignorant of the business in order to dedicate themselves to the pure artistry of their craft. Yet [other] copyright stakeholders have legions of fulltime lobbyists and lawyers so it’s a real, incredible disadvantage as an artist collective unless you can find a cheap lawyer who’s going to work for you. And most of us are out there trying to make a living, while this could take over your whole life. When are you going to find time to be a musician if you’re out fighting this battle all the time? So I don’t know what’s the answer and I don’t know if the CMCC is the answer."
Reprinted with permission from The LeBlanc Newsletter. The LeBlanc Newsletter is exclusively carried and archived by Canadian Music Week in Canada at www.cmw.net/cmw2008. It is available In the U.S. at Encore Celebrity Access: encore.celebrityaccess.com
Journalist/broadcaster/researcher Larry LeBlanc has been a leading figure in Canadian music for four decades. He has been a regular music commentator on CTV’s “Canada A.M” for 35 years, and has been featured on numerous CBC-TV, CTV, YTV, Bravo! MuchMusic, MusiMax, and Newsworld programs in Canada; VH-1, and EEntertainment in the U.S.; and BBC in the U.K. Larry was a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record; and, most recently, the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard for 16 years.