Open Letter: Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner, Digital Agenda

boscutti neelie kroes digital agenda

Thank you so much for raising the issue of artists and copyright at this year’s Forum d’Avignon.

You’re right that the current copyright system is not the tool to reward artists. If anything it enslaves them while profiting corporations and grinding culture down to a slow halt.

As you say we need to go back to basics and put the artist front and center, not only of copyright law, but in all policy on culture and growth. In times of change, we need creativity, out-of-the-box thinking to overcome this difficult period. We need art like never before. We need art to save us.

Old business models no longer work. Organizations like ASCAP, BMI, JASRAC, SOCAN, GEMA, APRA and their equivalents around the world that are supposed to help artists are holding onto their gatekeeper status at all cost.

My friends at Tunecore work hard to bring together musicians and fans (and money) more efficiently. They recently called ASCAP for a list of entities that ASCAP licenses to, as well as rates artists should expect to get paid.

ASCAP returned their call with two lawyers on the phone­ – lawyers that ASCAP is able to pay from the money it collects from songwriters – and said they could not reveal the rates or whom they were in deals with as it would “violate anti-trust laws.”

Thankfully technology is rendering these entities moot, a thing of the past. The only thing keeping them propped up is artists who do not understand how much money they are owed and where it is. As this information gets out, these organizations will use songwriters’ money in an attempt to sue, legislate and litigate. Anything to stop artists from getting more of what they earned.

We need organizations that serve artists not their own interests or interests of major corporations. We need organizations that help foster and reward creativity and innovation.

What can the European Commission do to hasten the demise of organizations and corporations exploiting artists?

What can the European Commission do to allow art and artists to flourish?

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