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The Live Music Forum Copyright Campaign


Recently, at a Westminster Media Forum on Copyright I asked a question about what was being done to move to a wider and fiarer copyright distribution ?

The person speaking was Tim Moss, the Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office. Without details to hand, Mr Moss agreed to follow the matter up and so we have written him an open letter.

Here is the text of the letter, sent on 5th August 2019.


Dear Mr Moss

You may recall my asking you a question from the audience at the Westminster Media Forum on Copyright on the 5th July.

My question was “what is being done to move towards a wider and fairer distribution of royalties to creators ?”.

Payments to me from Spotify are as low as $0.0004 per stream. At that rate, I will need to have around 100,000 streams to generate a minimum payment of £25. It seems there is nobody prepared to represent the interests of the thousands of creators out there who are competing to place their music and sustain themselves in the meantime. The level of payments to artists for streams, I believe, should be a subject regularly reviewed and discussed by decision makers such as the experts who attended the Westminster Media Forum.

In local broadcasting, temporary FM stations may pay £1,000 for a 28 day PRS license, yet, eight hours of original music by local bands will not result in any of the copyright fee being paid back to the artists, even though they may be members of PRS. The 'undistributable' revenue is aggregated up and paid to charting artists or rights holders. This is both culturally and socially immoral and these kind of inequities could undermine any attempts by industry to positively educate the public about copyright.

It could be that the proper copyright information is not processed. Or, that process breaks down at some stage. Perhaps it is just a simple matter of facilitating self-certification on the provision of a Tunecode or an ISWC number, as has been shown to work with live gigs.

Eitherway, it is no longer plausible, in this age of technical advance, to claim this copyright is either undistributable or too expensive to distribute. Copyright distribution to this 'coal face' of the music industry has traditionally been neglected and that is something that needs to change.

If we are appealing to the public to respect a fair copyright system, as expressed in the message of the seminar, then the copyright system must demonstrate fairness rather than the exploitative traditions practised on artists since popular music sprang up in the late fifties and early sixties. Indeed, the greed of the music industry led to the public's cyncism when it comes to the perception of ownership of music.

My other question at the seminar concerned restrictions on uploaded videos of local and unsigned bands' live performances of cover versions. Often they sound nothing like the original or end up as jams with flashes of brilliance. Both these, and faithful cover versions, form a vital part of the fabric of 'free' music education nowadays, as well as providing a publicity and networking tool for emerging bands. It was encouraging to hear from both Lodovico Benvenuti and Youtube's Benjamin McOwen-Wilson that such videos were monetizable for the rights holders and therefore could be protected. This 'strata of data' has replaced the oral tradition of handing down skills which I relied on when starting out half a century ago, so it really does need protecting.

At the seminar you offered to come back with some more detail afterwards and I look forward to hearing from you about what more can be done to ensure that we have a fairer Copyright distribution system that doesn't just serve the more successful creators.

Kind Regards etc.



Future updates will be posted here and on our Facebook page.

Phil Little
The Live Music Forum

Emal: editor@livemusicforum.co.uk