Artists Join Together To Protest YouTube Royalty Payments
April 26, 2016 at 1:26 PM (PT)
A group of artists across multiple genres, including GARTH BROOKS, STEVEN TYLER, KATY PERRY, DEADMAU5, FIFTH HARMONY, CHRISTINA AGUILERA, CEE LO GREEN, JON BON JOVI, LIONEL RICHIE, PETE TOWNSHEND, ROD STEWART, and ELVIS COSTELLO have signed a petition to reform the DMCA (DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT) in the U.S. The artists have joined together stating the current legislation "threatens the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music," according to a report in MUSIC BUSINESS WORLDWIDE.
Their target is the "safe harbor" provisions contained in the DMCA, which enable sites such as YOUTUBE to not be held legally responsible for copyright infringement taking place on the platform. The artist group’s letter, filed with the US COPYRIGHT OFFICE on THURSDAY, MARCH 31st, was also co-signed by BARRY MANILOW, BRYAN ADAMS, the estate of COUNT BASIE, BOOTSY COLLINS, MICK FLEETWOOD, BABYFACE, JOHN MAYER, PEARL JAM, and BERNIE TAUPIN.
It warned: “Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies generated by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted.”
BLONDIE's DEBBIE HARRY and MOTLEY CRUE's NIKKI SIXX have now added their names to a growing group of artists raising public concerns over safe harbor, and its corrosive effect on artist payments from digital services.
According to the NEW YORK POST, HARRY will urge PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA to issue an executive order to "close the so-called safe harbor loophole."
SIXX has also urged YOUTUBE to “do the right thing” over artist royalty payouts.
“YOUTUBE is paying out about a sixth of what SPOTIFY and APPLE MUSIC pay artists,” he told the GUARDIAN.
“We are not telling them how to run their business. We’re saying treat artists fairly the way other streaming services are. And by the way, we are a big part of what built your business: music is the No 1 most-searched thing on YOUTUBE.”
Due to safe harbor, it is currently up to managers and labels to file individual takedown notices with YOUTUBE for videos that infringe on artists’ copyright.
YOUTUBE argues that its CONTENT ID system has been "built to ensure that record labels, managers and others don’t only have to rely on DMCA notice-and-takedown tactics to get infringing content removed," claiming that since JANUARY 2014, over 98% of all YOUTUBE copyright removal claims have come through CONTENT ID.
YOUTUBE told the US COPYRIGHT OFFICE earlier this month that the argument the DMCA has directly resulted in a "value gap" hurting artists and labels is "completely false."
YOUTUBE Chief Business Officer ROBERT KYNCL has publicly blamed the company's NDA agreements with the major labels for the lack of transparency. "I can say we'd be very happy to share that information... if we could."
He expressed concern over music business "middlemen" -- labels, publishers and collection societies -- for "shaving big chunks of money" which, in the case of YOUTUBE stars like LINDSEY STIRLING, go directly to the artist.