Music Publishing News: Department of Justice Decision Has Songwriters Concerned

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By Songtrust

We’ve asked our friends over at Songtrust to compile a monthly round up of everything that happened in the wide world of music publishing. They are the experts in the subject — Songtrust works tirelessly to simplify royalty collection for artists, so it’s only best if you get it straight from the source! Without further ado, here’s the latest news in the world of music publishing from June and July…

Music publishers displeased with U.S. Department of Justice’s licensing decision

The U.S. Department of Justice has chosen not to amend the 1941 consent decree and is moving ahead with the interpretation that PROs must use 100-percent licensing. The two year process to amend the consent decree would have made it so music publishers had the right to withdraw digital licensing from the blanket licenses offered by PROs like ASCAP and BMI. Music publishers are also displeased at the decision to engage 100-percent licensing. They fear this licensing structure may lead to reduced royalty rates, less collaboration between songwriters, and chaos for licensing in general.

Streaming spikes on audio platforms

In the first half of 2016, for the first time in the history of the US music industry, more music streams took place on audio platforms than on video platforms. Nielsen Music’s mid-year report confirms that audio platforms saw 113.6 billion streams (up 97.4% from last year) in the last six months, with video platforms only at 95.3 billion streams. Streaming in general is up 58.7% from 2015, with on-demand audio and video music streams at 208.9 million so far this year.

US Copyright Office revamps compulsory licensing and acceptance of NOIs

Music Reports Inc. is working with the US Copyright Office to make compulsory licensing more streamlined, efficient, and digital. MRI seems to have become the first to digitally file notices of intent (NOIs) for compulsory licenses, rather than the time-consuming and costly process of filing NOIs manually, by paper, at $2 a song. The Copyright Office has revamped the way it accepts NOIs and changed the pricing structure. Now they can be filed on excel spreadsheets for only 10 cents a track. MRI has also made it easy to match songs to their respective master and publisher owners with its Songdex database which has metadata on over 70 million tracks.

Concerns with “safe harbor” protections invigorate call for reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Over 500 creators and 20 organizations have signed a letter to US Congress calling for reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The biggest grievance is with the DMCA’s “safe harbor” protections. These allow platforms such as YouTube to avoid legal liability for copyright infringement taking place on its platform. Chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, Irving Azoff, organized the letter, and said “the entire industry is united and committed to pursuing a fair resolution. We are fighting for the future.”

Open Music Initiative creates new set of standards allowing better communication between databases

Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship announced the Open Music Initiative to approach the issue of rights management and organization in the digital era. Rather than creating a centralized database for song and creator identification, OMI intends to create a set of standards that would allow for separate databases to talk to and verify information between each other. An impressive list of majors, including Spotify and YouTube, and independent companies like Downtown Music Publishing have signed on to support the initiative.

Pandora creates partnership with Music Reports following lawsuits filed against Spotify

Pandora has announced a partnership with rights administration platform, Music Reports, to manage the mechanical licensing and royalty administration for its upcoming on-demand streaming service. The deal comes on the heels of two $150m+ class action lawsuits filed against Spotify over missing or inaccurate mechanical royalty payments to songwriters. Pandora says Music Reports’ licensing opt-in platform will “give music publishers greater insight into and control over how their catalog of musical works is being enjoyed, and offer consistent rates across the industry.”

For more news on music publishing, check out our collection of music publishing articles on Flypaper!


Songtrust provides a technology platform that enables independent songwriters, artists, publishers, distributors, managers, and other music industry professionals to collect their publishing royalties worldwide. Our industry-leading online solutions simplify music rights management, including the administration of music publishing assets, performing rights, and digital licensing. Songtrust helps collect the royalties you’ve earned from airplay, streams, and live performances around the world with simple one-stop registration, no legal headaches, and all while maintaining 100% ownership of your copyrights.

Use Code SOUNDFLY10 to get 10% off your registration fee when you sign up for Songtrust, and begin collecting royalties on your tracks today!

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