ASCAP Submits Licensing Reform Recommendations to US Copyright Office

As part of our ongoing efforts to modernize music licensing, ASCAP recently submitted a set of music licensing recommendations to the US Copyright Office. The recommendations came in response to the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry for comments related to its study of the effectiveness of existing methods of licensing music.

Our comments acknowledge that music is now enjoyed by more people, in more places and over more devices than ever. But the outdated regulatory system that governs how new services are licensed has failed to keep pace, making it increasingly difficult for music creators to earn a competitive return for their creative efforts.

Click to read our full comments

We made the following points about how to move music licensing forward in the digital age:

1) The antiquated ASCAP Consent Decrees must be updated or eliminated

Instead of ensuring that copyright owners and licensees are negotiating on equal footing, the current ASCAP Consent Decree with the Department of Justice has allowed licensees — particularly new media services — to exploit certain provisions to the detriment of songwriters, composers and music publishers who depend on public performance royalties for their livelihoods. The simplest solution is the elimination (or sunset) of the Consent Decree. It no longer serves its intended purpose, and puts ASCAP and its members at a competitive disadvantage.

2) The current rate court process hinders the effectiveness of collective licensing

Rate court proceedings have become extremely time- and labor-intensive, costing the parties millions in litigation expenses, without resulting in fair market rates for writers and publishers. In addition, Section 114(i) of the Copyright Act has perpetuated a disparity in the compensation provided to songwriters for the use of their songs, compared to the compensation provided to record companies for the use of their sound recordings. If left unchecked, these developments threaten the viability of collective licensing in the US – which will hurt writers, publishers, consumers and new services alike.

Here’s what we propose:

  • Shift to rate-setting through expedited private arbitration instead of rate court
  • Establish an evidentiary presumption that direct licenses, negotiated voluntarily between copyright holders and licensees, provide the best evidence of reasonable rates
  • Allow new media services to secure licenses from PROs on a bundled basis
  • Allow PROs to accept partial grants of rights from its members

These proposed changes will benefit all constituencies in the music licensing marketplace. For consumers, these changes will ensure access to a broad range of music at a fair price. For music licensees, they will ensure continued access to the music they want at a reasonable rate. And for the songwriters and composers who are the foundation of the rapidly changing music ecosystem, they will ensure fair compensation for their creative works so that they can continue to write the songs we all enjoy.

Read the full text of our comments to the Copyright Office for more details.

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Kershaw Throws No-Hitter 15 K’s

Clayton Kershaw pitched his first no-hitter Wednesday night, striking out a career-high 15 and allowing his only baserunner on a throwing error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 8-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Kershaw’s gem gave the Dodgers the only two no-hitters in the majors this season. Josh Beckett tossed one May 25 in Philadelphia.

“I am so amazed,” Kershaw said. “Beckett told me he was going to teach me how to do that, so I have Josh to thank.”

Cheered on by his wife in the stands, Kershaw (7-2) retired his first 18 batters before Corey Dickerson led off the seventh with a slow bouncer to Ramirez. His throw on the run went wide past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for a two-base error — ending any chance for a perfect game.

But that was it for the Rockies against Kershaw, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner. And he came oh-so-close to throwing the 22nd perfect game since 1900.

Ramirez was back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday night’s game with a bruised ring finger on his throwing hand, the result of a sharp grounder by Dickerson than deflected into short center field for a double.

With the crowd of 46,069 on its feet and roaring, the left-hander made quick work of the Rockies in the ninth.

DJ LeMahieu grounded out to first base on the first pitch of the inning and Charlie Culberson hit a lazy fly to right field on the next one.

Dickerson then got four straight strikes and went down swinging.

After his 107th and final pitch, a smiling Kershaw raised his arms above his head and waited for a huge hug from catcher A.J. Ellis.

Moments later, as he was about to be interviewed on the field, Kershaw was doused by teammates with two large buckets. He also got a hug from his wife.

The only other time the Dodgers threw two no-hitters in one season was 1956, when the team was still in Brooklyn. Carl Erskine and Sal Maglie turned the trick that year.

One batter after Dickerson reached base, rookie third baseman Miguel Rojas backhanded Troy Tulowitzki’s grounder behind the bag and let fly with a strong throw to first that Gonzalez — a three-time Gold Glove winner — scooped out of the dirt to keep the no-hitter intact.

Ramirez was replaced on defense by rookie Carlos Triunfel to start the eighth.

Kershaw missed more than six weeks early this year because of a strained muscle in his upper back, after beating Arizona in the season opener during the Dodgers’ two-game trip to Australia.

It was the 22nd no-hitter in Dodgers history and the first at home since Ramon Martinez’s 2-0 gem against the Marlins on July 14, 1995.

“As far as individual games go, this is really special. To do it at home is more amazing,” Kershaw said before looking up and thanking the crowd.

Sandy Koufax pitched the franchise’s only perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965, against the Chicago Cubs.

Kershaw received a standing ovation when he came to bat in the eighth, and another one minutes later after finishing the job against one of baseball’s best lineups.

The Rockies began the day leading the majors in batting average, hits, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They were first in the NL in runs and homers.

The only left-handed batter the Rockies had in their starting lineup — other than pitcher Jorge De La Rosa — was Dickerson, who was in the leadoff spot for the first time since April 3.

Rojas also supported Kershaw with his bat, hitting a three-run double while continuing to fill in for injured third baseman Juan Uribe. Gonzalez and Matt Kemp each drove in two runs, helping the Dodgers complete their first three-game sweep at home this season.

De La Rosa (6-6) threw 86 pitches over 3 1/3 innings and was charged with eight runs, six hits and five walks. The left-hander is 0-3 with an 8.19 ERA in his last four starts, after going 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA during his previous seven outings.

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