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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rosanne Cash Speaks Out On Music Licensing

Roseanne Cash, pictured here in January 2014 at a WFUV event in New York City, testified before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday about music licensing and illegal downloading. (Gus Philippas/WFUV)

Roseanne Cash, pictured here in January 2014 at a WFUV event in New York City, testified before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday about music licensing and illegal downloading. (Gus Philippas/WFUV)

Rosanne Cash, musician and daughter of country music legend Johnny Cash, is urging Congress to do more to protect intellectual property rights in the digital age.

She testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee yesterday in support of the Respect Act, which would compensate artists for digital performances of songs recorded before 1972. Right now, there is no federal copyright protection for those recordings.

She also spoke out in support of the Songwriter Equity Act, which she says would set up a fairer system for compensating songwriters when their work is used by others.

Cash tells Here & Now’s Robin Young, “one streaming service, they streamed 600,000 streams of one of my songs and I got paid $114.”

Interview Highlights

On the radio business model

“That argument about promotional value, ‘well you know, you get exposure by them playing you on the radio,’ it just doesn’t fly, because want control of our copyrights. There is no other business model that could take your property, use it to sell ads for themselves and make billions of dollars, and then say, ‘well, it’s okay because we’re giving you exposure by doing it.’ There’s no other model that exists for that except songs and radio.”

On digital streaming services

“That is one of the building blocks because the future is digital services. There are things that have to be addressed in digital services too … Records that were recorded before 1972, there’s no royalty paid to the artist for those songs. And these streaming sites, there aren’t fair rates set for how they pay artists for streaming their songs.”

On inequality in the music industry

“The generation that’s growing up thinks music should be free. I’m willing to have that conversation when artists aren’t the only ones who aren’t being paid for the music. Right now, a lot of corporations and multi-billion dollar companies make money off the music and the artists don’t see that money.”


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  • http://www.debstover.com/ Dave’s Widow

    It isn’t only songwriters and musicians who are victims of online piracy. Book writers/authors are as well. It’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole to issue non-stop DMCA take-down letters to the endless stream of websites popping up with free downloads of my books. Some of those they have available for download have never been available in digital format, which means someone went to the trouble of scanning the print edition to create the illegal copy. I’m a mid-list author. The mount of dollars I lose is small compared to the bestsellers, but it–quite literally–takes living expenses away from my family. I’m not alone. I’m one small voice from among thousands–perhaps millions. Stealing is stealing–whether it’s a song, a book, a photograph, a drawing, or whatever. Please stop. Thank you, Ms. Cash.

  • Kathy L Kirk

    I listened with interest to your interview with Rose Cash. It is not just artists and musicians who do not get paid for their ‘work’…there are many areas that are not honored, most have to do with the ‘intangible’ contributions we make to the world. There are philosophers, poets, spiritual teachers…all of which contribute their gifts to the world at great personal cost – but do so because it is not our career – but our mission…to contribute our gifts of Who We Are…to the world.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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