The music industry is ramping up its campaign against YouTube.
Musicians, including Katy Perry and Billy Joel, sent a petition earlier this year to the U.S. Copyright Office to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Now there’s an open letter to Congress signed by stars like Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and U2 expressing a similar sentiment.
Music labels like Sony Music and Universal Music Group have also endorsed the letter, which will be featured in ads on political websites like Politico and The Hill.
While the letter’s wording focuses on the DMCA, the industry has one big platform in mind, namely YouTube, as made clear in Recode’s interview with manager Irving Azoff (who organized the letter).
The gist of the debate is that musicians and record labels feel that the law allows YouTube to host and monetize their songs without compensating the artists and labels fairly. YouTube, in contrast, notes the tools it has introduced to help the industry identify unlicensed content and points to the $3 billion it has paid out.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
DEAR CONGRESS: THE DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT (DMCA) IS BROKEN AND NO LONGER WORKS FOR CREATORS
As songwriters and artists who are a vital contributing force to the U.S. and to American exports around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living. The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music. Aspiring creators shouldn’t have to decide between making music and making a living. Please protect them.
One of the biggest problems confronting songwriters and recording artists today is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date compared to the era in which we live. It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish. Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies earned by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted.
The DMCA simply doesn’t work. It’s impossible for tens of thousands of individual songwriters and artists to muster the resources necessary to comply with its application. The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law nearly two decades ago. We ask you to enact sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment. It’s only then that consumers will truly benefit.
Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified performing rights organization BMI as a music label.