NMPA Statement on Senate Introduction of the Songwriter Equity Act

May 12, 2014


Statement from NMPA President and CEO David Israelite on Senate Introduction of the Songwriter Equity Act

“Today’s announcement is vital to a songwriters’ livelihood and woefully needed. I applaud Senators Alexander, Corker and Hatch for their Senate leadership on the issue.

Roughly two-thirds of a songwriter’s income is heavily regulated by law or through outdated government oversight. This results in devalued intellectual property rights.

When you download a song from iTunes or stream music interactively through services such as Spotify, a songwriter’s royalty – unlike royalties for a recording artist – is dictated by the Copyright Act.  A compulsory license system for “mechanical reproduction” that dates back to 1909 effectively prevents songwriters and music publishers from negotiating for the use of their songs in a free marketplace.  Another provision further disadvantages songwriters by directing the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) to apply a below-market standard when it sets rates for mechanical reproductions.  As a result, the two-cent royalty paid when a song was reproduced in 1909 has increased to only 9.1 cents today.  To put things in perspective, the dozen eggs that you buy for almost $3 at the grocery store today would have cost 14 cents in 1909, demonstrating that standard rates of inflation seem to somehow not apply to songwriters.

The SEA stops short of deregulating the market for mechanical reproductions. However, it takes an important step directing the CRB to use a “willing-buyer/willing-seller” rate standard to more fairly approximate what a song is worth in the free market.

We must inject fairness into an outdated process that is undeniably stacked against songwriters and publishers, ensuring they are rightly compensated for their work.”

About NMPA: Founded in 1917, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is the trade association representing American music publishers and their songwriting partners. The NMPA’s mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and songwriters in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights.