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Proposed changes in copyright law could render online music streaming more expensive

Pulkit Chandna | Feb. 12, 2015
Music copyright law is a mess, but the changes the U.S. Copyright Office is proposing might not help.

Implications for services, artists, and consumers

If implemented, the proposed framework could lead to an overall increase in songwriters' royalties. And considering how much streaming services are already paying the music industry, you can bet your bottom dollar that any substantial increase in royalties will not only leave them with lower profit margins, but will also add to your music-streaming/download bill. These paid and ad-backed services, however, have "free" alternatives (read: piracy) to contend with, so there is a ceiling to how much they can charge.

Artists of every ilk have the right to demand better payouts from streaming services; that's right, not just little-known songwriters merely trying to eke out a living, but even the Taylor Swifts of the world. That being said, online streaming services seem to be getting a disproportionate share of the blame.

If anyone should foot the bill (or bear the brunt) of any reforms, it is the record labels. What value have they added to the industry in recent years? We all know the answer, don't we? Despite their greatly diminished role in the digital music marketplace, labels are still raking in the lion's share of the industry's revenues , some of which could go to artists instead.

All in all, it seems the Office has tried to balance the many conflicting interests that pock the music licensing landscape. However, as was to be expected, its recommendations haven't gone down well with everyone.


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