I Can Prove Songwriters Abused by Unscrupulous Webcasters. So Why Are Songwriters under DOJ Supervision?

We’ve heard a lot of misleading rhetoric by blowhard broadcasting/webcasting lobbyists on Capitol Hill.  Songwriters are somehow a threat to these multi-billion dollar corporations and so songwriters must be kept in the yoke of the DOJ consent decree.

Now let me give you some cold hard facts. Below is an actual example of the webcasters violating the terms under which they may receive a compulsory license.   This is a  “Notice of Intention” that they are legally required to file before playing one of my songs. It is outrageously deficient. Therefore they are illegally playing my music.

But this is not just an isolated example.  I have dozens of these NOI’s and  90% of them appear deficient as they are notices of intent to distribute songs that have been made available for years. I have spoken to many other music publishers and songwriters. All of them agree that the majority of the NOI’s they receive are deficient.  Usually because they are sent after the music service uses the songs.  This appears to be mass copyright infringement.  Mass copyright infringement is a RICO predicate. So why the hell am I the one under DOJ supervision?

Virtually all the digital media companies (except Apple) do it this way. I’m telling you, these people make Morris Levy look downright honest.

So why am I forced by the DOJ to let these mass infringers use my songs?  Why does the federal government force me into a contract but then does not allow me to audit these companies. That’s right the federally proscribed compulsory license does not allow for an audit.  I’m supposed to take these companies at their word. Companies that I can demonstrate are lying?

Yet industry groups representing these abusive web casters held a semi-secret “hearing” on Capitol Hill to urge Congress and the DOJ to not only keep songwriters under the consent decree but expand it!!  This is essentially the bad guys running a protection racket with the DOJ as their muscle.

That’s why I protested this panel and gave the actual shirts off the backs of three songwriters to these lying and theft-enabling lobbyists.


This is songwriters “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore” moment.  Let the DOJ know that you aren’t gonna take it anymore.   They’ve asked for comments.   Click here for instructions.



Let me explain specifically how this notice is deficient and therefore invalid. I also intend to send a more detailed report to DOJ.

First this notice was mailed on July 14th.  So I received this notice before the listed date of distribution (July 23rd).   So on  July 22nd I checked to see if these songs were available on this service.  They were.  I even played the two newest.   The other songs were released in the late 1980s. These songs were from a major label album that has long been available on this service.  Yet they are only now getting around to sending the “Notice of Intention” to distribute these songs?

Finally since the service is exercising the compulsory license they are required to send me accounting statements monthly.  Where are my statements?  That’s another violation of the law!

Again it’s the webcasters that need DOJ supervision not Songwriters.  I have dozens of these notices.

MRI bad NOI  redacted 2


MRI bad NOI  redacted 1



About Dr. David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.

9 thoughts on “I Can Prove Songwriters Abused by Unscrupulous Webcasters. So Why Are Songwriters under DOJ Supervision?

  1. When ASCAP/BMI/SESAC stops demanding payments from the little coffee shops where kids have to sing all original all night long because 3k a year really is more than they can afford, so they have to take up donations to pay for covers, maybe there will be some semblance of sanity on both ends of the copyright wars. I went to a brew pub where four songwriters held the stage for two hours for maybe and audience of five and only one of those not a girlfriend of a performer. All paid up. Then I went to the college coffee shop where it was packed wall to wall with kids with guitars and one gay guy with a ukelele, hot as hell, kids sprawling down the sidewalk, puny PA, no organization but a scribbled sign up list, and they were singing their hearts out. For free. No covers. They can’t afford them.

    As the twig is bent, David, so grows the tree. I’ve spent time fighting for the Bigs because the tech industry of which I’ve been a part is ripping the artists off. Yet there is so much frikkin’ greed that they can’t cut those kids a break. And maybe that’s karma because if those kids keep singing their own songs in one generation they will forget the Moptops, flower power, and grunge. They will remember Jason Mraz, Isbell, maybe even some Peter Paul and Mary, but they will say to hell with the collection agencies who cannot cut them a break, who force them to beg for tips to pay the vig. You want their support? Talk to the Boys and tell them to set a tier for collections. Quit robbing piggy banks. If the music matters that much, then let the backyard gardens grow. That is where the new music is coming from and they don’t need you, they don’t need Taplin who calls them second rate and they don’t need T-Bone Burnett who only “works with the best”. They are the future and if you can’t help them when they need help, then to hell with you. You don’t matter. You’re done. But if you do, then maybe there is a coming generation that will see to it the right thing happens. Your choice.

    • This is like a Sasquatch sighting. Or Obama’s faked birth certificate. Cheney behind 9-11. Can you please direct me to an actual incidence of a kids playing covers in coffee shops being asked to pay for the covers that they played by a songwriters organization?

      Now I’m sure there is some sleazy bar owner that forces kids to pay for the cover. But it’s a sleazy scam and I guarantee you they are keeping it for themselves. There is no way to pay a PRO on a song by song basis.

      And btw my wife books several venues. all of which pay their songwriter PRO licenses. Which is an honest and honorable thing to do. And It’s really not as much as you think it is when you break it down per show. And the fee is usually figured into the ticket price as part of the show expenses, and I can guarantee you it’s one of the smallest items on the expense settlement at the end of the evening. Further this money usually then goes directly to the performers(if they wrote the songs) as soon as they upload their setlist to BMILVIE

      Why do people like you always think we have to change the rules to reward scofflaws, cheaters and crooks?

      • Whaddaya want, grainy videos, pix, interviews, Sasquatch heads?

        Open mic nights. These are kids playing for free in a room that sells coffee and sandwiches. Barely gets by. I’ve been there a few nights and they instruct the kids signing up that they can’t play covers. Heard the same story in a local brew pub where pros do play but on open mic night the songwriters were arguing about the BMI/SESAC/ASCAP guy wanting the fees for nights where the songwriters are singing their own songs. Probably will cancel those nights because NO MONIES ARE COLLECTED FOR A SHOW. It’s free.

        The Foyer. Huntsville Al. You can find them on Facebook. OTW, corner of Holmes and Jordan Lane. Not exactly Bigfoot country. Definitely not a place Dick Cheney hangs out.

        Who pays collections for the entertainment districts that allow busking in front of venues that used to pay entertainers but now get it for free by “allowing” musicians to busk on the sidewalks? Just curious. Are sidewalks collection free zones? If so I want to tell The Foyer to take tha money they are collecting in a jar every week and buy a decent PA, then play covers on the sidewalk out front where they are sitting on the curb to get out of the heat inside.

        These aren’t scofflaws. They are young musicians, songwriters living the life in the days before there is any money in it. They love it. I think you guys have forgotten what that is like, how that felt when you were “playing real good for free”.

        Your rules aren’t serving them and so my advice to them is to tell you to go straight to ‘ale. These are hard scrabble times. I get collecting from the deeper pockets. Do that. But open your eyes. There is a tier beneath that and it is filling up fast. It is a real scene where the next generation of songwriters and singers are learning their craft, just like the Village in the Great Folk Scare. If we step on that, we’re screwed and for a long time. Word.

      • No but you miss my point. Those are bar owners that are saying this. ASCAP and BMI are essentially songwriters unions. (we can’t have unions we produce product, don’t labor) ASCAP and BMI are not asking these kids to pay them. ASCAP and BMI aren’t trying to collect from buskers on the streets.

        Your outrage is MANUFACTURED or directed at the wrong people.

        And if you want to send a lynch mob of angry teenagers after me with your falsified and misdirected indignation. You are free to do that. But that appears to be some sort of threat.

      • Wait. I got to say more. You are so fucking Alabama. Somehow you think me fighting for my rights is somehow threatening other more deserving peoples rights. Why does this shit always come out of Alabama?

      • Don’t you know the state motto of Alabama? I think it’s on the quarter: “We Dare Defend Our Rights”. Left unspoken was “Just ours. Not yours.”

  2. I was in a cover band for 11 years, no one ever asked us to pay a PRO fee. I have no idea what Len Bullard is talking about. I’d dare say that if it cost so much to perform covers, then I doubt there would be so many tribute bands springing up everywhere.

  3. Hey! If you can’t swim get out of the water…….If you don’t know what the hell you are talking about, put a bandage over your mouth…
    to those who don’t get it…songwriters are the new feeding tube for criminal web casters, streaming sites, the Evil Google, their adopted hell-child, Youtube, etc. etc
    Welcome to the new Bastard Child of our government

  4. Don’t you know the state motto of Alabama? I think it’s on the quarter: “We Dare Defend Our Rights”. Left unspoken was “Just ours. Not yours.”

Comments are closed.