We’re All Producers Now: A Reply to the NMPA
Some years ago, my raised hand got chosen out of a large crowd to put a question to a panel of music publishers at a Nashville summit on trends in the music business. I wanted to know if there was any hope for reform of a synch licensing system that routinely hampered my business - telling music stories with video. One of the panelists, David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers’ Association, briskly said that wasn’t in the cards and forget about it. So I was quite surprised and pleased when Israelite replied to my Billboard.biz op-ed on the very same subject last week.
Alas, his answer is the same. But here and now at least I can push back a bit and try to force these questions farther into the light.
Israelite jumps to the conclusion that my support for new compulsory licensing schemes for songs in some kinds of media production is tantamount to support for big government and federal price controls. I don’t think that’s fair, and I wish to see as little government as necessary to support a new regime of fair compensation for all uses in all cases.
More problematic, he doesn’t address my two core questions about copyright in today’s digital culture. What are we going to do about the myriad uses of copyrighted works that are too trivial to justify case-by-case negotiations between user and owner? And in a world where video has become our most popular, ubiquitous and vital communications medium, how can we possibly build a modern system on a synch right that was set up when matching motion pictures with sound was a cutting-edge idea?