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I have been tinkering with it ever since trying to keep it more up-to-date, since I want to help shed some light on a complicated situation that has a large impact on musicians, music listeners and public places where music happens.
Undoubtedly parts of it need updating, but the basic explanations and issues are still unchanged. My experience is that musicians, venues and the general public know almost nothing of this system that has a great deal of influence in the music business, and involves nearly a billion dollars annually.
These organizations exist by a strange set of legal circumstances, and are very little understood or regulated, yet they have a wide influence and control a lot of money in the modern music industry and in hundreds of thousands of places of business. A number of publications declined to publish this, not wishing to stir up too much trouble.
There have been many edits and updates since it was written, and one of these days I hope to seriously research and update it or encourage a professional journalist to dig into it I welcome your input to update this information if you find something incorrect.
My only intent is to explain what I understand to be the way the system works, though my own opinion that we could design a better system no doubt creeps in. A number of issues that that need clarifying have arisen since this was written, and could use the services of a skilled journalist or investigator to look into.
These include whatever changes have been made by insiders to ASCAP and BMI charters and bylaws, the emergence of SESAC as a larger player in this game, the complex issues of licensing Karaoke, games, podcasts, satellite, cable and internet music, as well as other changes involving the use of internet, television and video in public businesses.
The basic system of licensing is still in place, and the explanation of its details is still accurate, and I would venture a guess that size of the "licensing empires" and the total dollar amounts of licensing money have gone vastly higher than the old numbers I give here.
You obviously don't need a license to blast some music at a private party in your house, but advertising publicly that you're having a concert at your house where copyrighted music is being performed is not OK with everyone.
It's a delicate issue. I also encourage some of you to read this posting by songwriter and folk musician Richard Phillipswho wrote me his saga of how he became possibly the first person to beat BMI in a legal battle over a BMI license for a restaurant.
It involved him playing only his own music and traditional songs in a cafe in New York state. It's long and involved, but if you are really into this stuff it's worth reading. Harvey Reid Oct Many of you who are music listeners have no doubt read the small print in the liner notes of recordings, seen the letters ASCAP and BMI, assumed that they had some legal meaning concerning ownership of music and never thought much more about it.
Many musicians, writers, club owners, promoters and other active participants in our music industry do not know much more about these organizations than this, even though they control huge amounts of money and have vast power in the music business.
And it may well be true that many who understand this system the least are people who have the most legitimate grievances against it. It is certainly worth trying to look inside a hidden industry that controls so much money and power in the name of the public good, without any elected public officials or legislatures having a say in its operation.
ASCAP derives all its power not from any laws that have been passed by elected officials, but from a decades-old federal judicial consent decree in the Southern District Court of New York. ASCAP is an unincorporated membership association, and not a non-profit corporation as it is often assumed.
Struggling musicians and songwriters seem to have become pervaded with sort of a lottery-ticket mentality; they know that if they make it big they will receive a lot of royalty money someday from ASCAP or BMI, so they generally join and don't complain. Since nobody plans to stay unknown and impoverished, the concern among less-than-world-renowned music business people about what they might do to get a fairer shake in the system before fame sets in seems small.
ASCAP has published remarks to the effect that all legal challenges to their system have come only from consumers of music and not owners, and they state in their literature that "apparently the writers and composers are satisfied with the current system.
Those who are in a position to reform the performance rights licensing system are the very ones who are profiting most from it, and the system shows no signs of abandoning any of its long-established methods of running itself.
The focus of the "PRO's" performance rights organizations and the music publishing industry in general have moved away from sheet music, becoming almost entirely focused on "performance" royalties. This is intended to be a way that owners of music can be paid when their music is used in "public performances.
In ASCAP had about 32, writer and 14, publisher members and no doubt these numbers are significantly larger now. As sound recording, movies, television have been introduced, ASCAP has expanded its system to collect money from each new format. ASCAP claims that their methods of distribution are fair and regulated, and until the advent of modern mass media entertainment, they may have done an arguably adequate job of tabulating and paying out money.
With musical performances now including live music, elevator and office music, radio, TV, movies, video, airplanes, theater, tape decks, and jukeboxes in addition to printed sheet music, the task of logging the usages of copyright has grown astronomically.
Any inquiry made directly to either ASCAP or BMI seems to yield many shiny, expensively-printed pamphlets with lots of glamorous photos of stars, detailing how fair and just they are about paying royalties to deserving writers and publishers.
How the system works In order to prevent the chaos of each music copyright owner trying to supervise any performance or broadcast uses of their work, and the equally large problem of each user having to seek out the owners of each song for permission, the intermediary licensing organizations namely ASCAP, SESAC and BMI sell licenses to anyone who uses copyrighted material that belongs to their members.
ASCAP claims that "the public interest demands that such an organization exist" and that it is "the only practical way to give effect to the right of public performance which the Copyright Law intends creators to have.
The price for this blanket license is determined by an elaborate formula that involves the demographics of radio and TV stations, concert ticket price, seating of the room, the form of music radio, solo, band, show, theater, etc. Although people have written me recently and said that the rates are based on fire-code "potential occupancy" and not something real like attendance or cash register sales.
ASCAP may not deny a license to anyone, nor discriminate in their prices, and all similar users must supposedly pay the same rate. The cost of the blanket licenses, however, varies widely, and many complaints have been filed about unreasonableness of the fees.Prevailing over English literature for mainly 34 years (), Romanticism proved itself as one of the most ingenious, extreme and instable of all ages, a time characterized by insurrection, conservatism and reformation in politics, and by the creation of imaginative literature in its characteristically contemporary structure.
This lively collection of essays gives a non-technical, but profound analysis of the essential relationship between politics and literature. Bernard Crick shows how 'political theatre' is often both bad theatre and simplistic politics, but how good producers can bring out political messages in such seemingly 'unpolitical' dramas as Twelfth Night.
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LITERATURE AND POLITICS: THE IMPACT OF FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY Dostoevsky and the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor, by Vasily Rozanov.
Translated and with an Afterword by Spencer E. Roberts. George Orwell is most famous for his novels "" and "Animal Farm," but was a superb essayist as well. In this collection of essays from the s and s, Orwell holds forth on a wide range of topics.
George Orwell is most famous for his novels "" and "Animal Farm," but was a superb essayist as well. In this collection of essays from the s and s, Orwell holds forth on a wide range of topics.