This week we would like you to meet Alisa Coleman, Executive Director of the New York Chapter of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP).
1. Explain what your organization does and tell us about your role.
I am the Executive Director of the New York Chapter of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP). The independent music publishing community makes up nearly 1/3 of the market share in the U.S. which is greater than any one of the major music publishers. We are a membership organization that helps educate independent music publishers, and songwriters about copyright and financial opportunities through various monthly events and our annual Indie Music Publishing Summit (June 12 at the 3 West Club in New York City). We also advocate for global, local and domestic legislation that benefits our members, most recently lending our support to the Music Modernization Act, currently awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate after unanimous approval in the House.
2. What is your (and your organization’s) interest in copyright law? How does your organization and/or its constituents rely on copyright law to support their livelihoods?
Copyright law is an integral part of our members ability to survive and flourish. Aside from the protection it provides under the law, the songwriters and indie music publishers we represent, in most cases, are completely reliant on copyright law (i.e. mechanicals, public performance and synch licensing), and the parity it provides between all works and owners to ensure they are paid fairly for their intellectual property.
3. If there was one thing that you wished the public understood about copyright, what would it be?
Copyright is essential to a functioning society and is not just to the benefit major artists, major publishers and major labels. The support Copyright Law provides allows songwriters (who are your neighbors and friends – and not necessarily superstars) protection of their property and the opportunity to make a living. The public needs to understand that parts of the copyright law have not allowed songwriters to earn a living wage. We need to stand together to make changes – the new compulsory licensing rates and the Music Modernization Act are a step in the right direction; we also need to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect indies to lift the financial burden of safeguarding our income and property, and to decrease the value gap that has been created due primarily to the DMCA.
4. What is your organization’s biggest copyright-related challenge?
One of our biggest objectives is working with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) on continuing the momentum and support around passage of the Music Modernization Act. Copyright law is extremely outdated at the moment with consent decrees and antiquated compulsory licensing structures. Passing the Music Modernization Act would be a massive victory for independent publishers and songwriters. Creating a Mechanical License Collective with Independent Music Publishers and Songwriters on the boards and committees will help us ensure equality in the structure of payouts and operation. The MMA will also provide for a more modern and realistic rate standard, a right to audit the digital services, establishment of a central public database to ease royalty payments from digital services, removal of evidence limitations in PRO rate court proceedings, placed on rights-holders arguing for more accurate royalty rates, allowing PROs to be heard by more than the same two judges, and once and for all establishing that digital services must pay for the use of pre-1972 recordings.
5. If there was one aspect of copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?
Put the power with the creators and copyright owners. Currently, our industry is so heavily regulated that unwinding these things takes time. We are making baby steps in the right direction but the regulations in and of themselves had caused the industry to stumble. We’re not able to be nimble to deal with technology or other changes as efficiently or quickly as needed. Our industry of music publishing has moved from its passive state of mere collection to a pro-active state of promotion, leadership and financial significance. So we need to either rid ourselves of the laws that prevent this pro-action or create a system that responds quicker to the needs of all.
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