Pale Ail: Why Are Micro Breweries Supporting Bill That Takes Away Songwriter Rights @PoliticsBrewing

Pale Ail:  Boulder Colorado based Brewers Association supports a regressive bill that strips songwriters of key legal rights. This is the second time they’ve been involved in anti-songwriter federal regulation that doesn’t clearly benefit independent brewers.  So what is really going on?

This is stunning.  The Brewers Association which represents thousands of independent breweries is supporting the Shiv Act,  or as it is formally known “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” (Sensenbrenner R-WI). As we have detailed previously, the bill really has nothing to do with transparency in music licensing.

The bill  forces songwriters to participate in a mandatory federal database, in order to retain their full legal rights. Let’s forgo the constitutionality of this for a moment.  The immediate problem is the database requires songwriters to provide information in advance for which they have no access. Failing to provide this data strips songwriters permanently of legal protections for those songs. It’s a complete Catch-22.  It’s clear the database is a poison pill, really intended as an insurmountable barrier that separates songwriters from their legal rights.   Actually quite an appalling tactic if you think about it. The federal government is forcing us to dig our own graves.    Read the details here.

To understand where we are coming from, independent brewers should imagine for a moment that the Federal Government has created a mandatory database for micro brew brand trademarks, but the information required is impossible to provide, and as a result the feds takes away your legal rights to enforce you trademark. That’s what the Brewers Association is helping do to us.

But there is also something more puzzling. I’ve read the bill at least a dozen times and I don’t really see how this bill helps microbreweries with music licensing.  I see plenty that helps the NAB, ClearChannel, YouTube, Spotify, Amazon etc but nothing that helps independent brewers.   In fact this bill combined with the last years “100% licensing” scheme (also endorsed by the Brewers Association) will result in a more fragmented landscape for music licensing. This will hurt micro brewers more than help them.  Think it’s a pain in the ass dealing with BMI/ASCAP/SESAC?  Imagine if the licensing landscape required dealing with thousands of individual songwriters, publishers, record labels and independent licensing administrators.  This sort of complexity favors big companies over little ones.

If songwriters are the rank and file workers of the music business, this is simply an attack on the most beaten down and abused workers in the entire entertainment industry. You’ve seen headlines like this right?  It looks like the Brewers Association instead of fighting for independent brewers, has decided to join Google, YouTube, NAB and Spotify in kicking an injured dog.  This is not a good look.

In some ways independent brewers and independent songwriters/musicians have a lot in common.  We are both in businesses that are highly regulated and dominated by large monopolistic distributors.  Did you know that aside from movie,tv and commercial “synch” licensing, every other royalty rate is set by federal regulations? The federal government controls more than 2/3 of our licensing and there are basically three multinational conglomerates that distribute almost all music?  Sound familiar to you?

So why are you folks fighting us?

2 thoughts on “Pale Ail: Why Are Micro Breweries Supporting Bill That Takes Away Songwriter Rights @PoliticsBrewing

  1. You know, music doesn’t create itself, this is something people in general seem to forget. There seems to be a waning respect for creative talent these days, or at least far less than what there used to be. I’ve got people for example stealing my music every day from sites like soundcloud and using it in their youtube ads or what not. These days I spend 60% of my time creating new music, and 40% of my time being a police detective online tracking the misuse of my song materials, which includes people actually stealing them and claiming it’s them playing guitar on the tracks.!!

    The word “songwriter” is pretty important there. Perhaps with everyone taking away our rights (or trying to), we should let them write their own songs and see how crappy that turns out. As I said, songs don’t write themselves. Composing is a skill, a very specialized skill, and one that should be rewarded and protected because it can’t be fully taught. It requires more than just book knowledge of music, but also actual creative talent. I think the songwriter should get most of the credit for any creation, but that’s not the case. Which is sad because without the “songwriter” there would be no song in the first place!!

    Seems to me after being in the music business for over 30 years, that as the years pass words like copyright, credit, and songwriter/composer mean less and less. On the people side, people seem to want to take credit for things they didn’t do, or think because it’s online and they can download it, it’s theirs. From the corporate side, they don’t want to pay. Used to be in film for example 10% of the budget was for music. Now, usually on the indie side of things music isn’t even incorporated into the budget, because they can steal or get free whatever they need with no fear of retribution.

    Sad to see all this happening to what should be a group of people including myself who deserve a lot of credit and respect for a very specialized and difficult creative skill.

    — Just sayin’
    Jeff Fiorentino

  2. Politicians work for their donors, and alcohol industry is worth billions a year. If they can take your music, not pay you, and sell their product with your creativity, it seems pretty clear like everything else in this country, it’s a rigged monopoly system. The general conception of musicians, and it has been for many years, is that they are stupid flaky artists: “SO,Let’s steal from these people because we ourselves can’t do what they do, or we’re just too lazy, and use our bitches in congress and the bureaucracy of the federal government to F$ck them All over. A couple of envelopes full of cash to another bunch of other losers goes a long way.” It’s all actually quite out of hand, but how many of you @$$holes voted for Hillary and these grifter socialists AND republicans on the Rockefeller payroll? Yep you can’t stab yourself with that knife, then cry cry in your cornflakes tomorrow.

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