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Transparency In Music Licensing And Ownership Act Quietly Adding Cosponsors

1Last year a new bill was introduced by Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner titled the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act, and although it received significant criticism for not actually solving any current licensing issue, the bill has quietly been accruing cosponsors.

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Guest post by Chris Castle of Music Technology Policy

MTP readers will recall the many, many attempts at producing a real-time global rights database (and expensive failures).  When Rep. Sensenbrenner introduced the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act last year, we roundly criticized the bill as an 11th Century solution to a 21st Century problem, the Domesday Book meets a unicorn.  But the bill was roundly cheered by the MIC Coalition, which includes the National Association of Broadcasters.

Not only that, but by imposing a registration formality on all the songwriters of the world, it’s entirely a capitulation to Professor Pamela Samuelson’s ineffectual Copyright Principles Project, the wildest dreams of Lawrence Lessig and probably the clawing of the latest debacle of the anti-copyright crowd, the Restatement of Copyright.  Not to mention a violation of international law (Berne Convention and TRIPS).

With all the talk about the controversial Music Modernization Act, one would have thought that a pre-condition of introducing the bill is that the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act would have been withdrawn.

2To the contrary, Rep. Sensenbrenner has been quietly adding co-sponsors to the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act and is now up to 15, although the acceleration may have tapered off.

Why?  One reason is that at the heart of the Music Modernization Act is the very type of arguably unlawful registration formality from the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act–the register or lose it type–that no doubt makes Lessig start to drool, metaphorically speaking, of course.  And should also bring cheer to the MIC Coalition.

No one is asking when the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act will be dropped, but in a way they don’t have to.  Supporters of the bill (like the MIC Coalition) get a lot of what they want in the Music Modernization Act–a Lessig-style registration requirement that is essentially an orphan works bill in disguise.  Maybe that’s why they’re supporting the MMA alongside the orphan works holdouts from 2006, the last time an “omnibus” bill failed (that started out as “SIRA” for “Section 115 Reform Act.”

That bus was not magic, either.

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