I was prompted by the initiatives of the current UK administration to draw up an agenda for growth and renewal in the music industry. So here is a five point plan. I put it here for comment and discussion. It’s probably not comprehensive, but hopefully it does sketch out a blueprint for a new architecture for the music industry. It might also be of help to other content and media sectors who are migrating to a digital market online.
1) Where money is made an artist must get paid – where money is lost, artists should not bear the cost.
Encourage the pursuit of big rogue pirate web-sites, discourage expensive and ineffective pursuit of music consumers who file-share. Put an end to parochial skirmishes with ISPs, collaborate with them to build a fully digital media industry. Reform the Digital Economy Act.
2) Protect artists integrity but set usage switches to “on” not “off”.
Reform copyright legislation to make it recognise that copyright is primary in respect of the creators right to attribution, remuneration and integrity, but that the power to control the online reproduction right is now fundamentally eroded.
Establish a direct moral right that connects an artist and their work (termed recently by Sandie Shaw as a “mother right” – this is law in France).
Encourage extended collective licensing that would fundamentally allow people (consumers and b2b) to use music at pre-agreed prices on pre-agreed terms.
Give artists the right to opt works in or out of this scheme.
Establish base-line levels of control around the integrity of a work (eg: not for use in advertising tobacco).
3) Restore balance of power in artists contracts:
Outlaw “life of copyright” contractual terms (this is law in Germany).
Enforce an international audit right, outlaw NDA terms around audits.
Make “use it or loose it” a standard term in record contracts.
Allow artists to sell their own work off their own websites.
Enforce artists ownership of their own “key domain” websites.
4) Be in business not anti-business on licensing.
Make it easier for us to have our music licensed and for third parties to license it:
Encourage bundling of rights offered at the licensee end and better management of payment systems at the creator end.
It should not be a trade secret who created what or who owns what rights in a song or a recording – it should be a matter of public record:
Demand the making public of key commercial metadata on all recordings, artists and works. Support the creation of a networked global repertoire database, and demand the use of small amounts of public money to create the infrastructure to compel the data to be made open to public access.
Demand legislation to reform collecting societies. Demand the rapid merger of their data-gathering activities. Demand competition between them for service to their members to motivate them to increase efficiency. Ban the monopolistic hoarding of data subsets.
5) Get real with consumers.
Consumers want to and do copy privately, they mash up video and music, they mix tracks, time shift consumption of streams, transfer stuff from one device to another. Let them – by law.
And… make it easier for the creative among them to explore the commercial opportunities that their work produces by making it easy for them to connect with rights owners who are compelled to be cooperative in licensing. See above.