Songwriters Bill of Rights

Songwriters Bill of RightsASCAP, more fully known as The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, recently launched A Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers. The document contains 10 “core principles” that ASCAP hopes will serve to remind their members, the public, and government legislators of the rights granted to authors of creative works under the US Constitution.

The introduction to the document makes the case that without these rights, the outcome would be a diminishing of the economic viability of music creation, resulting in less music being created for fans to enjoy. ASCAP President and Chairman, Marilyn Bergman, commented on this idea.

Given the many issues surrounding the music industry today, it can be all too easy to overlook the source of it all – individual songwriters, lyricists and composers. That is why ASCAP has launched this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers. Our goal is to remind lawmakers, the general public and music creators themselves of the rights that are inherent in their art. We simply cannot allow the original source of all music to be lost in the shuffle.

They are asking that those who support this position electronically ‘sign’ the bill. After collecting as many signatures as possible, ASCAP will present the document to key legislators in Washington, and other leaders both inside and outside the music industry.

The first and possibly most important of the rights is this.

1. We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate.

It must be with some satisfaction that ASCAP reports on this court decision determining license fees to be paid to ASCAP by AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo! for their use of musical works. The report indicates the payments could be as high as $100 million for the full period covered by this decision (July 2002 – December 2009).

It seems some lawmakers already agree with right #1.

  • Pingback: Creative Caffeine: Nashville Recording Studio » Blog Archive » Songwriters Bill of Rights()

  • This is good. I like the idea of explicitly defining how the concept of individual rights is applied in a given field of enterprise; in this case, the property rights of musical artists.

    However, this Bill states, “Without these rights, which directly emanate from the U.S. Constitution…”

    This statement is untrue. The U.S. Constitution does not confer rights, it limits government.

    Individual rights are natural and are inherited upon the condition of existence. They may or may not be recognized by a given society or government, but individual rights do not “emanate from the U.S. Constitution,” the Declaration of Independence or any other document, decree or pact.

    Better to say, “Without these rights, which directly emanate from the facts of existence and, consequently, the individual’s natural right to properly and fully own the ‘fruits of their labor’…”