Hypebot is reporting an important story you might have missed: SoundExchange/SXWorks has launched a tool for songwriters to begin unraveling the mess that Digital Media Association companies created at the Copyright Office over mass NOIs.
You’ve heard about the loophole that the Digital Media Association companies like Spotify, Amazon, Google (YouTube) and Pandora (but not Apple) are leveraging to conjure up one of their beloved fake safe harbors? Yes, rather than actually get a license and pay royalties, these DiMA companies in the business of search want us to believe they can’t find songwriters or copyright owners in order to send the notice of intent that qualifies them for a compulsory license.
The loophole is that they only have to look for the copyright owner in the Copyright Office records that are notoriously incomplete because the Copyright Office tells us all that we don’t have to register with them in order to own copyright and get benefits like getting paid when DiMA companies use our songs. Plus even if you do register, it takes the Copyright Office a year to approve or deny your registration.
But–but–if the DiMA company claims they can’t find you in the Copyright Office records, they can file that NOI with the Copyright Office. Then they claim they have a compulsory license except for one tiny detail–they don’t have to pay you! So even if you have taken the time to file your song with YouTube’s CMS and Content ID so they actually know who you are, if you haven’t registered with the Copyright Office it doesn’t matter.
Insult to injury, the Copyright Office has allowed Big Tech to post these notices in hundreds of gigantic and weirdly compressed Excel files with no simple way to search for your song. Plus the Copyright Office doesn’t bother checking to see if Big Tech has filed the NOI properly while they give your copyright registration the third degree. The Copyright Office then creates their own fake safe harbor to self-insulate themselves from failing to check NOIs. Are we ever in the wrong business.
The millions upon millions of NOIs started getting posted in April 2016–now there are 60 million and counting songs that the DiMA companies are not paying and no real way to search the mass NOI filings to know if your songs are implicated.
Thankfully, SoundExchange/SXWorks is on our side. They came up with a free searchable database of all of these NOI filings so you can look up your song. This is the first step toward songwriters getting justice and it’s an important one. If you don’t know you’re getting screwed how can you do anything about it?
Hypebot carried an explanation from Mike Huppe:
“Music publishers and songwriters finally have a way to gain visibility into address unknown filings made by some service providers using their songs,” said Michael Huppe, Chairman of the Board of SXWorks. “Publishers and songwriters can search the NOI submissions via a simple web-based interface. The service makes a complex process much more transparent, supporting our goal of trying to improve how the music industry operates.”
You want to do this so you can know if you should register your song for copyright or better yet if your song is already registered and the Copyright Office has made a mistake in allowing the NOI to be filed. (If you find mistakes, call the Copyright Office at Tel: (202) 707-8150 Fax: (202) 707-0905 or Email: email@example.com)
This SXWorks NOI Lookup will be a hugely important tool for songwriters trying to unravel the bureaucratic barf that DiMA created (and it’s a nice touch that it was SoundExchange that stepped up to solve a publishing problem created by DiMA after fighting DiMA for years on behalf of artists and labels).