Americans for Tax Reform released a letter to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) encouraging a private sector solution to the complicated and confusing issue of paying artists for using their musical works. Congressman Sensenbrenner’s proposed Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act is a well-intentioned attempt to address the current challenges to paying musical artists. However, the legislation in its current form gives oversight of a database of music licenses to the Library of Congress, which has repeatedly shown that it is incapable of managing such a large and frequently updated system. Given their digital track record, it would be unwise to give them oversight of a database of music copyrights and their transfers.
Decreasing liability concerns and encouraging collaboration between artists and outside groups are desirable outcomes of an improved music license system. An easily accessible database of various music copyrights would both foster creativity and lower the cost of doing business for local business owners and artists. Supporting a private solution that has market incentives to cater both to the needs of artists and paying businesses would be the best way for this project to work in the long term, and not return the industry to its current state of confusion after a few years of inadequate management by the Library of Congress.
It is clear that there is disconnect in the current music licensing market, but rather than proposing public agencies fix this incongruity, encouraging a private solution that has incentive to meet the needs of both artists and local business owners is best for the music industry, local businesses, and taxpayers going forward.