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Submit an orchestral work for a chance to have it performed at the ECSA General Assembly in Belgrade

 

Closing date for entries: Monday 30 April 2018

Performance date: Tuesday 18 September 2018

 

About ECCO

ECCO (European Contemporary Composers Orchestra) is the name for the bi-annual concerts presented by ECSA (European Composer and Songwriter Alliance) to coincide with its General Assembly and Creators Conference each year. The programme for ECCO concerts is drawn from a competitive Europe-wide call. This will be the tenth European Contemporary Composers Orchestra (ECCO) Concert. Selected works will be performed by the RTS Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bojan Sudjić on 18th September 2018 in the “Kolarac” Concert Hall in Belgrade. The ECSA General Assembly is a high-profile meeting of composer organisations from all over Europe and we encourage all Standard and Professional members to submit works for this call. Previous performances include:

  • The Stargazer by Lynne Plowman performed by Ensemble Sturm und Klang at the ECSA Creators Conference in Brussels, February 2015
  • Standing as I do before God by Cecilia McDowall and It Sounded as if the Streets were Running by Jonathan Dove performed by the BBC Singers in London as part of the ECSA General Assembly hosted by BASCA, November 2015
  • Musical Chairs by Michael Berkeley and Strike Opponent’s Ears With Both Fists by Julian Grant performed by Ensemble Sturm und Klang at the Creators Conference in Brussels, February 2016
  • Concerto for Orchestra 1st & 4th movements by John Casken performed by RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra in Ljubljana, September 2016
  • Plainsong for Strings by Jennifer Fowler performed by Wiener Concert-Verein in Vienna, October 2017

Instrumentation

  • 3 Flutes (one doubling piccolo)
  • 3 Oboes (one doubling cor anglais)
  • 3 Clarinets (B flat or A, one doubling bass clarinet)
  • 3 Bassoons (one doubling contra bassoon)
  • 4 Horns
  • 3 Trumpets
  • 3 Trombones
  • 1 Tuba
  • 1 Timpani
  • 3 Percussion
  • 1 Harp
  • Strings (12/10/8/6/5)

Requirements

  • No piano, keyboard, organ, voices or electronics are available
  • ECCO encourages pieces of all lengths but ask that the piece does not exceed 15 minutes
  • Works must have been written within the last twenty years and have already received a
    performance
  • This is a call for orchestra only. On this occasion we cannot consider concertos or works with
    extended solo parts
  • This call is open to Standard and Professional BASCA members
  • Works may be submitted by the composer or their publisher

How to submit

Please send the following by e-mail to natalie@basca.org.uk by midnight on Monday 30 April 2018. Large files may be sent via an online file transfer service such as Dropbox or WeTransfer.

  • PDF of the score
  • Recording of the entry (MP3 format only)
  • Biography of the composer
  • Contact information of the composer
  • Photo of the composer (with credit information and authorization to use)
  • Programme notes (if available)

Selection

BASCA will select up to three works from those it receives to submit to ECSA. The ECCO Artistic Committee will then select the concert programme. We will inform all composers whether or not their work is one of three submitted by BASCA to ECSA and, if so, whether it has been selected for the concert.

BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt, Matthew Irons, singer, songwriter and guitarist of the Belgian band Puggy, Polish author, composer, performer and conductor Piotr Rubik,, electronic composer Jean-Michel Jarre, singer and producer; Astrid North and Cora Novoa, Spanish electronic and experimental pop music composer and DJ

BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt delivered an address to the EU in Brussels this week on the subject of the growing ‘Value Gap’.

Hunt was helping to re-launch the #MakeInternetFair petition, which includes the signatures of over 15,000 creators from across Europe – alongside representatives from GESAC, CISAC, and PRS.

The EU are currently debating the first major copyright overhaul for over 17 years.

The process aims to create a number of significant new reforms and a radically different copyright framework. A vote will take place later this year.

A delegation of European musicians, songwriters and their representatives met with the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel to press home their case on Tuesday (6th March).

The #MakeInternetFair petition, which asks the EU to change the balance of value between from creators towards online platforms and tech conglomerates such as YouTube and Facebook, also makes demands for so-called ‘safe harbour’ non-liability provisions not to be abused and used as an excuse to knowingly infringe copyrighted works.

Hunt said,

“I hereby sign and launch this petition of over 15 thousand creator signatures in the name of protecting the future of European creativity. 

Not only protecting the future for professional creators but to protect each and every citizen creator and their children’s children, the value of whose creativity is being sucked out of Europe and into the offshore accounts of unaccountable tech giants.

These technology companies claim to be the guardians of freedom of speech, but if you truly believe in freedom of speech then protect creativity;  protect authors, poets, musicians, filmmakers and playwrights who speak a truth that algorithms will never understand.

Because when you take the human out of the process, you can also remove the humanity.

Europe, was built upon an ideology — a social contract to care for all its citizens and the civilization they enjoy.

Putting one’s faith solely in the magic of the market will only substitute one kind of naivety for another.

The market, the consumer and the future needs culture. And culture – from the paintings on the wall of a cave in Almeria to the truth printed by the press- defines European civilization and its identity.

Remember, it wasn’t the printing press that changed the world it was the words printed on it.

A yawning chasm has emerged between the richest 1% and the unlucky 99%. Solving this value gap will go some way to address that imbalance for future generations.

Setting up the internet so that it once again runs on effective competition as opposed to monopoly is the goal the European authorities must achieve.”

Following Hunt’s speech BASCA CEO Vick Bain said, “For 3 years now BASCA has been campaigning publically for the removal of safe harbour provisions for certain online platforms such Facebook and YouTube; these intermediaries benefit from others creativity and knowingly hold infringing copyright works.

“We have the opportunity to sort this out within our reach and this petition, backed up by thousands of BASCA members, should demonstrate to the EU Commission how important an issue for creators this is.”

The Music Modernisation Act is a proposed new piece of legislation in the US that aims to reform copyright law. The two Congressmen behind it – Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries – say that their proposals, if passed, would “bring music licensing its first meaningful update in almost 20 years”.

Unlike most other countries, In the US there is no collecting society offering a blanket licence covering the ‘mechanical rights’ in songs, which are exploited whenever a song is copied. This means users of music must identify the owners of every song they copy, and make sure those owners receive the licensing paperwork and fixed royalty rate set out in American copyright law.

For streaming platforms such as Spotify, who exploit both the performing right and mechanical right elements of the song copyright, this has proven to be very problematic. They distribute performing right royalties to collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP, but in order to pay the mechanicals, the platforms must do that themselves. With no central database documenting music rights ownership, that’s proven to be a very difficult.

This all means that many copyright owners haven’t received the royalties that they are due which constitutes copyright infringement on the part of the streaming platforms. Spotify are currently being sued by publishing company Wixen for $1.6 billion.

This new act would create a blanket mechanical licensing system that would replace the current decentralised system.  Administered by a new ‘super-PRO,’ all artist and publishers would register their tracks; and platforms like Spotify, that want to use the music, would licence it there.

It would be easy to believe that support for the new act is universal but this is not the case. BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt says: “BASCA potentially approves of the MMA as it should benefit British and EU Writers significantly but feels there are a number of details that need to be clarified before we can give our full support. The following video highlights a number of these concerns. BASCA is meeting with UK Publishers to discuss  mutually beneficial resolutions to our issues with the MMA in coming weeks”. 

 

 

Nitin Sawhney and Mira Calix join BASCA representatives at the Bulgarian Embassy

BASCA delivers letter to the Bulgarian Ambassador to ask for support in the protection of copyright.

On January 1, 2018, a decade after its accession to the EU, Bulgaria took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU For six months. Bulgaria is now the main driving force for the tasks on the agenda of the Union, performing the functions of an objective mediator and political leader.  Yesterday (13/02/18) BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt, BASCA CEO Vick Bain and members Nitin Sawhney and Mira Calix visited the Bulgarian Embassy in West London to personally deliver a letter to the Ambassador and ask for his country’s support for future creativity and culture in Europe.

One of the key priorities on the agenda of the Bulgarian Presidency is the Digital Single Market; in particular copyright legislation which aims to harmonise the essential rights of authors and of performers, publishers and broadcasters.  The EU needs modern copyright rules fit for the digital age. The Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market is the first update of copyright legislation for 20 years.  The European Commission has presented legislative proposals to make sure that consumers and creators can make the most of the digital world and ensure a fairer market place for online content.  BASCA has campaigned consistently for the past few years to ensure that the wording of this legislation will best protect and support songwriters and composers.

BASCA CEO Vick Bain says “The Copyright Directive is in now its final stages and so it is vitally important the voice of the music creators and performers are heard at the highest level.   That is why BASCA organised a meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador in order to ensure our points of concern over the future of music and culture in the EU are delivered directly to the Bulgarian Presidency”.

BASCA member Nitin Sawhney comments “Campaigning to ensure songwriters and composers are protected and can earn a liveable income from digital platforms such as YouTube and Spotify is an essential aspect of the BASCA mandate. In that regard, it was an honour yesterday to meet with the Bulgarian Ambassador and ensure the voice of songwriters and composers was heard in this important debate”.

The letter reads:

Dear Ambassador Dimitrov,

We are writing to you today on behalf of 2,200 of the United Kingdom’s top songwriters and composers to ask for your support in securing the best possible legal framework for the protection of future creativity and culture in Europe. We acknowledge the rich and wonderful musical heritage of the Bulgarian people and know you will share a common interest in wishing to protect it.

Music is an essential expression of European cultural identity and a robust copyright regime, coupled with strong accountability across all Creator Rights, is essential if the EU is to protect musicians and composers. Europe’s creative industries have flourished because we have had sensible laws in place to allow a fair and competitive market for content; but the growing domination of the digital environment means those laws are now in urgent need of modernising. One of your stated priorities for the presidency is the Digital Single Market. The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is that opportunity for modernisation.

In 2015, YouTube accounted for 40% of overall online music consumption but only 4% of revenue. They claim to have paid out $1billion to music industry last year, but that only equates to $1 per user per year. Compare that to the $17 per user per annum returned from streaming services like Spotify and you begin to see the inequity in the market. After a 20% cut from Google Ads YouTube takes another 45% of all advertising income on its platform. The owners of the video and the sound recording share the remainder with finally, songwriters and composers, getting a fraction of the revenue their work generates. And that is only if the works attract advertising; where there is no direct advertising then the creator gets nothing. YouTube is arguably the biggest and probably the best streaming service on the planet, yet it avoids paying properly for the content it serves by exploiting an outdated legal loophole that fails to reflect contemporary consumption habits; Safe Harbour. That is why YouTube is valued at over $70bn yet EU composers and songwriters have to share a fraction of $0.0007 per stream.

Likewise, with Facebook. Last year Forbes valued Facebook at over $400 billion, the 6th most valuable company in the world. Last year they declared over $35 billion in advertising revenue and over 2 billion monthly users of the service. Facebook are only now concluding licensing deals with the major record labels and publishers; yet music has been a key driver of their platform offer for years. We are not privy to the terms of the deal for the majors because of non-disclosure agreements but independent publishers have suggested the licenses are being constructed in such a way to avoid liability or ultimately to pay royalties.

In the Copyright Directive we have a chance to make these platforms secure proper licensing deals for all music used on their service through Article 13. This is a once in a generation opportunity to correct the ‘value gap’; the gap between how much value the platforms take from music and the value returned to the creators for the use of their works.. The Bulgarian Presidency is working on a compromise for Article 13; creators prefer the option that clarifies that the platforms, or online content sharing service providers, such as YouTube and Facebook ‘communicate to the public’ and for the Safe Harbour limitation to be more focused. This will bring them into the music value chain and will correct the drain of the value of European cultural talent and return any benefit to Europe.

There are also other measures in place in the Directive in Articles 14, 15 and 16 that are essential for the future protection of creators and citizen creators and to strengthen their negotiating power to achieve a fairer and more balanced marketplace for their work. The Directive has acknowledged the often-insurmountable difference in power between an individual composer and an international broadcast company in contractual negotiations for their works. These will go some way to correcting this power imbalance and include further obligations towards transparency, a contract adjustment mechanism (in case of a failure to exploit or proportionately share the rewards of success) and a dispute resolution system.

Now Bulgaria is leading the Council’s work; your support for the sensible and timely creator friendly reforms included in this Directive is crucial to maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment for the entire European musical community. As your chosen motto states ‘United We Stand Strong’, we at BASCA certainly hope that Bulgaria will unite with the Creators of Europe to ensure that we can indeed continue to stand strong in the Global Creative Market.

 

Spotify has confirmed that it is finally adding songwriter and producer credits to its platform.

This will start on the desktop version first but will then be rolled out to mobile version application in the future.

The data is being provided by record labels which Spotify admits may not be completely accurate and says ‘The feature will continually evolve to become more efficient, provide better functionality, and incorporate more information from industry partners over time.’

 

BASCA CEO, Vick Bain comments

“What an absolutely fantastic way to end the week; to see something we have been calling for years come to fruition.  Songwriter credits on streaming services is something we have been strongly and repeatedly insisting on.  Our campaigning on this issue certainly helped push the platforms to work on a solution.  We have had numerous meetings with digital platforms, collective management organisations and publishers and there was a will….we knew there would be a way.  Proper credits on these services is not only good for songwriters, composers and producers it is good for fans…how much more a richer experience they will have learning about the people behind their favourite tracks and developing an appreciation for the fact it is often not the performer who creates that music.   Tidal launched a similar service a few months ago, but Spotify are the largest platform by far so this is excellent news and I hope all of the rest will follow soon.  We understand the data is coming from the record labels not publishers and therefore may not be 100% accurate or complete, but let’s see what they have and we can all work on correcting that data together.  Songwriters and composers are the very reason the music industry exists…it is only right that that they should be properly credited!”.

Following a landmark ruling, royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US from on-demand subscription streaming will rise by 44% over the next five years.

As a result of a trial that took place between March and June of 2017 with the National Music Publishers Association and the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI), with the likes of Google,  Apple, Spotify, and Amazon lobbying for the tech community,  the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) confirmed its decision on 27th June concerning the compulsory mechanical rates which will be distributed to writers for 2018 – 2022.

The ruling includes a significant increase in the overall percentage of revenue paid to songwriters from 10.5% to 15.1% over the next five years, the largest rate increase in CRB history.

BASCA CEO, Vick Bain commented

“We are delighted that the US Copyright Royalty Board has seen fit to start addressing the great imbalance in streaming payments for songwriters and composers.  The current rate of payments for mechanical royalties set at 10.5% has been too low for too long.  Most writers struggle to make anywhere near a decent living on the actual money this actually means; especially once the money is split between co-writers and publishers.  In our own digital royalties campaign we have long called for a greater parity between the songwriter/publisher payments and that of artist/label.  We still believe a fair share is more than this; but an increase up to 15.1% of gross revenue is a firm step in that direction.  The US is a particularly large market for many UK writers and this will have a direct impact on their income streams”.

Here you can read more about the ruling

BASCA is delighted to announce that the British Composer Award for Inspiration will this year be presented in association with the Music Publishers Association.

The British Composer Award for Inspiration is one of two Gift of BASCA Awards that will be presented at the ceremony on 6 December in recognition of a composer’s contribution to contemporary music throughout their career. The recipient of the 2017 Inspiration Award will be announced at the ceremony.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage. They celebrate the art of composition and showcase the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists.

BASCA CEO Vick Bain says

“We are delighted the Music Publishers Association are supporting the British Composer Award for Inspiration; it is a perfect fit. The relationship between a good publisher and a talented composer can be a benefit not just to them but to society. Getting their composers the best commissions, ensuring fair remuneration, managing the business side of their world, enabling the composer to focus on what they are good at; composing brilliant music which we can all enjoy for many years past the premiere.”

Jane Dyball, CEO of the Music Publishers Association says

“The Music Publishers Association is delighted to be supporting the British Composer Award for Inspiration. This notable award recognises one person’s vast influence on new generations of contemporary music creators. Music publishers are key investors and commissioners in classical music and both support and are dependent on the talent embodied in this award”.

The 15th British Composer Awards take place on 6 December 2017 at the British Museum in London. The award ceremony is hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch and will include a performance by members of the Kreutzer Quartet.

For more information visit  the British Composer Awards website and follow @ComposerAwards.

British Composer Awards 2017 Nominees Announced

Highly topical shortlist shines a light on composers engaging with current affairs, politics, and gender perceptions through music
Britain’s most talented young composers brought to the fore, with nearly half the nominees aged under 40
More women nominated than ever before, as record number of composers enter awards

 

Britain’s foremost contemporary composers have been revealed today, with thirty composers nominated for the British Composer Awards, spanning 33 works across 11 categories.
From a community project exploring the refugee crisis and featuring Donald Trump quotes, to a work examining societal perceptions of women through the metaphor of birds, to a composition calling on humankind to re-programme its attitude towards the natural world by giving nature a musical voice, the 2017 nominations underline the many ways in which contemporary composers are using music to engage in current affairs.

The 2017 nominations highlight the UK’s thriving contemporary music scene, with a record number of entries received this year (up by 18.5 per cent in 2016). The number of young composers nominated increased by 16 per cent, with 46 per cent of nominees under the age of 40, and the number of women nominated has continued to increase year on year, with women making up 42 per cent of the shortlist. Half the composers are first-time nominees.

Crispin Hunt, Chairman at BASCA, said: “Britain is home to a flourishing and bold community of enlightened and reformist contemporary composers, whose work continues to accelerate music’s role in society. The works nominated here speak to politics, ecology, art and history and somehow manage to distil the disorder about us into form. It’s inspiring to note a significant uplift in submissions this year, especially to see so many first-time nominees and young composers shortlisted – further testimony to the pioneering musical spirit of today.”

Composers exploring the refugee crisis in their work include: first-time nominated composer Emily Peasgood, whose Community Project ‘Crossing Over’ features quotes from Donald Trump and the voices of refugees, asylum seekers and British citizens to question the true meaning of ‘home’; Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian’s Contemporary Jazz Composition piece ‘Muted Lines’, which explores her family’s own experiences of the Armenian diaspora; and Kerry Andrew, whose Young/Amateur composition ‘Who We Are’ brings together five children’s choirs and addresses themes of identity and ‘otherness’.

Female composers and perceptions of women in society feature strongly in this year’s nominees, with nominated works including a composition by Emily Peasgood examining the language used to describe women in society today, and a Community Project by Brian Irvine celebrating Lilian Bland – the first woman in the world to design, build and fly an aeroplane. For the first time, there is an all-female Orchestral category (‘Torus’ by Emily Howard, ‘Two Eardley Pictures’ by Helen Grime and ‘Forest’ by Tansy Davies) and the only three composers with multiple works nominated are all women: Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Sally Beamish and Emily Peasgood.

Works exploring humankind’s relationship with nature include: ‘Forest’ by Tansy Davies, a piece that gives nature a musical voice in order to call on humans to become more compassionate towards the natural world; Kathy Hinde’s ‘Luminous Birds’, inspired by real birdsong; and ‘Inside Colour’ by Deborah Pritchard, a response to the beautiful colours of the aurora as seen from the International Space station.

For the full list of nominees by category see below.

Also honoured in the shortlist is the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, one of the foremost composers of our time. His opera for children ‘The Hogboon’ is nominated in the Amateur or Young Performers category and was composed to help children develop self-confidence, teamwork and musical skills. His influence can be found elsewhere in the shortlist with Sally Beamish’s Solo or Duo composition dedicated to her friend and mentor and composed on Sir Peter’s unused manuscript paper.

Other themes emerging from the nominees include works inspired by science, mathematics and mental health, and compositions influenced by writers and artists such as JMW Turner, Shakespeare, Austin Osman Spare, Joan Eardley and Sarah Kane. The nominations also shine a light on new talent in Jazz, with all three of this year’s nominated composers being first-time nominees.

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

The winners in each category will be announced at an awards ceremony presented by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch at the British Museum in London on Wednesday 6 December 2017. In addition to the 11 award categories, two composers will be honoured with a Gift of BASCA Award in recognition of their contributions to contemporary music throughout their careers, with one award for Inspiration (presented in association with the Music Publishers Association) and one for Innovation.


2017 British Composer Awards Nominations:

Amateur or Young Performers
The Feast That Went Off With A Bang by Ed Hughes
The Hogboon by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Who We Are by Kerry Andrew

Chamber Ensemble
Khadambi’s House by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
Skin by Rebecca Saunders
The wreck of former boundaries by Aaron Cassidy

Choral
Affix Stamp Here by Leo Chadburn
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton
The Temptations of Christ by Barnaby Martin

Chamber Ensemble
Khadambi’s House by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
Skin by Rebecca Saunders
The wreck of former boundaries by Aaron Cassidy

Choral
Affix Stamp Here by Leo Chadburn
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton
The Temptations of Christ by Barnaby Martin

Community or Educational Project
Anything but Bland by Brian Irvine
BIRDS and other Stories by Emily Peasgood
Crossing Over by Emily Peasgood

Contemporary Jazz Composition
Loop Concerto for jazz trio & large ensemble by Benjamin Oliver
Muted Lines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
You Are My World by Robert Mitchell

Orchestral
Forest by Tansy Davies
Torus (Concerto for Orchestra) by Emily Howard
Two Eardley Pictures by Helen Grime

Small Chamber In Feyre Foreste by Robin Haigh
Omloop Het Ives by Laurence Crane
Tuvan Songbook by Christian Mason

Solo or Duo
Inside Colour by Deborah Pritchard
Merula Perpetua by Sally Beamish
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Stuart MacRae

Sonic Art
cloud-cuckoo-island by Hanna Tuulikki
Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde
Untitled Valley of Fear by Sam Salem

Stage Works
4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables
Empty Hand, Peaceful Mind by Ben Gaunt
The Tempest by Sally Beamish

Wind Band or Brass Band
Anemoi by Joseph Davies
Four Études by Edward Gregson
In Ictu Oculi by Kenneth Hesketh

For the second time, this year’s entries were judged anonymously for all categories apart from Community or Educational Project, Sonic Art and Stage Works – where the presence of the composer is often integral to the performance itself – and works could be submitted by the composers themselves.
Works eligible for the 2017 British Composer Awards must have received a UK premiere between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017. Works must also have been composed by a UK-born composer, or ordinary resident in the UK.
For more information on this year’s British Composer Awards visit www.britishcomposerawards.com or follow @ComposerAwards.

Songwriters Protest ‘Moral Rights’ Issue to Recording Industry Association of America in Strongly Worded Open Letter

‘Moral rights’ for anyone unfamiliar with the concept have been enshrined in the UK’s legislative framework since 1928.  The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works outlined 3 basic rights for songwriters and composers; that of the right to be recognised as the author of a work, the right to object to being named as something you haven’t written and the right to object to derogatory treatment.

Now whilst all are important for creators the first one is paramount.  Even if you assign or licence your works, as you must if you want to earn an income from your music, you should always be credited as the creator.  At present there are 172 signatory countries out of about 192 countries in the world today.  We do have specific issues in this new digital world where streaming and downloading platforms do not have the ability to search for songwriters and songwriters are not included in the visible metadata for users; this is something we are campaigning very vocally about and will continue to do so until these services get with the picture and update and improve their services – for both the writers and fans.

However, even though the US signed up to the Berne Convention in 1989 it chooses NOT to recognise moral rights, saying they are confusing.  There really isn’t anything confusing about crediting the original creator of a song folks!!  So understandably the writer organisations in the US get very excised, rightly so, about this ongoing scenario.  The US Copyright Office this year conducted another study into the issue with some very strong statements from creators and submissions by writer organisations in support of the US finally recognising moral rights.  However the RIAA in its wisdom decided to continue to reject this position.

Thus writers from across the US, Canada, the UK and Europe – organisations representing many tens of thousands of songwriters and composers of all genres – have come together in an unprecedented alliance to explain to the RIAA why this is wrong and damaging to the very people whose works the music industry is built on.

 

An Open Letter

15thAugust 2017

 

Mr. Cary Sherman

Mr. Mitch Glazier

RIAA

(Via email)

 

Dear Messrs. Sherman and Glazier,

It was with great disappointment that we read the recent RIAA comments to the Copyright Office in connection with moral rights; in particular, with regard to the right of attribution. The RIAA’s argument prioritizes the inconvenience of dealing with accurate metadata over the principle of the protection of the rights of the people upon whose work the music business is built. In our view, and the view of many in the creator community, this is not only irresponsible, it represents a betrayal of the ‘greater common purpose’ to which so many of us are committed—a purpose with which the RIAA claims to agree.

While music creators have greatly appreciated the RIAA’s leadership on, for example, the Music Community submission on Section 512, it’s crucial to note that such a leadership requires buy-in from the community one purports to lead. In this case, not only do you not have buy-in, the RIAA comments have inspired very active opposition, including that from UK and European music creators whose work is consumed widely across the USA but whose moral rights are not recognized, in part, due to your position.  The Berne Convention, revised in 1928 to include moral rights, has 172 countries around the world signed up to it; it is only the US that refuses to assert them.

To make our position clear, we urge you to read the comments filed by Maria Schneider in this matter, which we believe capture the general views of the performer and songwriter community. Maria has outlined how enforceable rights of attribution (in the form of statutorily protected metadata) can be useful, if not indispensable, tools in achieving the kind of accountability from the internet that, in other submissions, the RIAA seeks to establish. [See Maria’s comments here.]

More fundamentally, RIAA’s comments are taken by many in the music creator community as a betrayal of our joint commitment to expand opportunities for creators. Unfortunately, this divergence of views gives our common adversaries an opportunity to divide our community.

We certainly are aware that the RIAA and its members have historically not embraced the idea of moral rights, and have tended to view it as a litigation risk. But the basic metadata rights we’re talking about here are already protected by Section 1202. We are not living in ordinary times, and we’re sure RIAA is well aware of the sensitivities regarding transparency and accountability. Without accurate metadata, contributors to a work risk not getting paid. That’s a moral dilemma intrinsically linked to the issue of moral rights — and on this issue the RIAA has now aligned itself with those who seek to enfeeble IP rights.

Even anti-copyright groups like Creative Commons understand the importance of attribution. If the RIAA is seen as less artist-friendly than Creative Commons, the copyleft and all who seek to undervalue our work will benefit. What’s more, this could make the job of aligning creators with the RIAA around our combined interests infinitely more difficult. 

The RIAA comments raise fears about technical issues concerning implementation of the metadata. However, we believe this misses the point. No one is asking to add new requirements here. The current ID3v2 metadata tag is clearly a ‘standard technical measure’, and includes 80 separate ‘fields’ for including all sorts of metadata, including performers, lyricists, studio engineers etc. This capability is baked in to every MP3 and AAC. The RIAA should fully support and encourage all of us in the music community to harness and protect that metadata.

Instead, the RIAA frantically lays out a litany of hurdles they claim will prevent digital platforms from giving credit to the many people that contribute to a creative work. We believe there’s no doubt music platforms will come up with innovative and effective ways to give credit. Certainly there’s no need to set expectations at rock bottom as the RIAA did in their comments.

We have no interest in imposing new requirements that are unreasonable, or that require parties to include information that they themselves do not possess. But we do expect that the metadata capabilities that the industry and Section 1202 have given us will be protected, today and into the future.

Accurate metadata is essential to the healthy digital future of music creators, it is also critical to the healthy digital future of each and every Citizen Creator. The potential to report 100% accurate usage is the greatest promise cyberspace makes to Creators. Yet, in your Moral Rights submission, the RIAA seems to approach attribution and the accuracy that metadata provides as if it were a threat.

With key efforts like the Open Music Initiative, the future value of metadata to musicians and songwriters will be absolutely critical. And if, in the process of protecting those rights, we also happen to implicate certain moral rights, so be it.

The RIAA comments go in the exact opposite direction on this crucial issue, failing to take into account the potential value of legislated accreditation via metadata and providing ethical and political cover for Google and others to treat the internet as some kind of accountability-free zone. That, of course, has much broader implications than just with regard to the issue of moral rights.

We urge you and your members to think carefully about how to move forward from here in ways that truly reflect the interests of those you claim to protect. There are corporate players here, whose unfettered commercial self-interest masquerades as ideology and who capitalize upon our perceived divisions.

While the comment period may have technically closed, there is no restriction on the RIAA revising its views, endorsing the comments filed by Ms. Schneider, and affirming the following: a) the importance of metadata to musicians and creators; b) its strategic value to rights-holders in the future of payment/accountability technologies; c) the relevance and authority of Section 1202 in protecting those rights; and d) the short-term and long-term damage and chaos that is created by encouraging music distributors such as YouTube to disrespect and strip that metadata from our valuable creative works. In fact, we hope the RIAA will join us in encouraging the Copyright Office to use its authority under Section 1202(c)(8) to expressly include all of the metadata contained in a standard ID3v2 tag as falling within the definition of CMI.

We ask that the RIAA work with the creator community to address the specific issues of implementation. More important, we strongly urge the RIAA to present a united front in our common cause to protect the rights of music creators and those who present their work.

Sincerely,

British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)

European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)

MusicAnswers

Music Creators North America (MCNA)

Council of Music Creators (CMC)

Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)

Societe Professionnelle des Autuers et des Composituers du Quebec (SPACQ)

Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL)

Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC)

Songwriters Guild of America (SGA)

Songwriters of North America (SONA)

 

Further reading:

http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/songwriter-groups-hit-out-at-the-major-labels-position-on-moral-rights/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7933276/songwriters-coalition-open-letter-riaa-moral-rights-copyright-law

 

Three collection societies, PRS For Music, ASCAP and SACEM announced last week (7 April) they are working together to prototype a new shared system of managing music copyright information using blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology, most commonly associated with digital currency Bitcoin, has become well-known for its use in payments systems for its ability to manage records without centralised governance.

The project aims to create a new system for managing the links between music recordings International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and music work International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs) which in turn will resolve conflicts between linking identifiers for the same work across multiple rightsholders.

“BASCA is delighted to hear that PRS For Music is spearheading  this initiative”. CEO -Vick Bain commented  “Bad data is the scourge of the music industry and this solution to a long intractable problem appears both elegant and robust..the ability to be credited for the music you have written is something creators have long-campaigned for, it is in fact a “moral right”. The importance of enabling ISWCs to be transparently linked to ISRCs cannot be underestimated. It will allow more accurate identification in turn allowing greater accuracy and more money in the pockets of hundreds of thousands of songwriters and composers.’

Here you can watch Imogen Heap explain more about Blockchain technology and its impact on the music industry.

 

For more videos please visit the members’ area

 

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