I read your statement on S.1384 with great interest, and congratulate
you for your lucid and honest presentation of the issue.
Because I have been on the front lines of the music business all my
adult life, I feel very involved with this issue. During the 1960s I
participated in the complex task of copyright revision, and as an
active publisher played a role in discussions that lead to several
major compromises necessary to get copyright revision accomplished.
It is still clear in my mind that a compromise was struck whereby
publishers would share in the 19 year extended term on derivative
rights. Once that compromise was struck, the matter of duration was
all settled. There was no reason for further debate, and that's why
the legislative proceedings contain so little on this vital issue.
This company has been in the hands of the same family since 1913 when
we were founded. Considering what we have contributed and created
over the years, I can only express amazement at anyone who would
describe us as "middlemen." Looked at very simply, a writer created a
song 56 years ago. We became a partner and worked on that song for 56
years (or 28 years if the partnership began during the renewal term).
No matter how much one glorifies the songwriter, no matter how
sympathetic one may be toward the person who works only with his mind,
I think that the writers are being greedy in asserting that it is
right to stop this partnership on all work that has been done in the
past, and that they are to get all of the money during the 19 year
extended tem. It is equitable to continue to share the fruits of
that partnership between the publisher and the writer. That is the
compromise that was made. The writer still gets reversions. They own
the copyright for the next 19 years, and whatever they create they
keep. In addition, they inherit the momentum of the song that was
built up through the publisher's efforts.
Ralph Oman, register of copyrights, points out in his statement
that there is a constitutional issue about the proposed bill.
Well, after the Supreme Court decision, I have more than "reasonable
expectation" to be paid on derivative works (which income my company
shares with the writers).