‘There’s Light at the End of the Tunnel’ for Music Writers, says ASMAC VP Ira Hearshen

21 January 2021

Finally, some hopeful news for those of us who write music for a living. After repeated assaults on our ability to be compensated fairly for our work, the tide is turning. The first item; Last year the ‘Case’ act was passed with nearly unanimous votes in both the U.S. House AND the Senate. Up until this act was passed, in order to sue for an intellectual (Music Art, & Literature) copyright infringement, up ‘til now that action could only be heard in Federal Court. To even file for a petition in Federal court can run up to amounts in 5 figures including fees and legal costs. Obviously, Large corporate owners have a built-in financial advantage over individual creators, because of their ability to sustain the contest by waiting out the individual Plaintiff until the money runs out.

What changes with the passing of the ‘Case’ act is; that going forward, Infringement Suits can now be entered in State, County District or Superior Courts where not only are there dramatically lower legal court fees available, but much quicker chance of resolution.

Another Legislative Victory for Music Creators this last year was the updating of the MMA (Music Modernization Act) Conflict Resolution Board Composite. This body consists of 12 seats. When it was first created, 10 of the seats were given to Publishers with only 2 seats for creators (writers). After a lot of back & forth discussions between Creators, the US Copyright office, and the authors of the MMA, the number of seats allotted for creators was doubled to 4, with 2 more seats added for the owners bringing the total number of seats to 14. Discussions are continuing with the ultimate goal of having this Body’s seats being split between the Publishers (8) and Creators (6). If this occurs those of us who actually create original music will have a much stronger voice at least in the setting of rate %s for the work we do as creators. These developments would’ve been unthinkable 2 years ago.

Although, the main focus of the information above is on the ‘Composer’ part of the Music Writer/Prep. segment of our industry, the ramifications of these developments include all of us. Lesson learned here is that when we as professional artists come together with resolve, we can be heard. For all too long, a lot of us have been conditioned to keep our heads down and not rock any boats. From my own experiences both good & bad, I’ve come to believe that its not so much do I or don’t I get involved. It’s when, where, and how much I get involved.

There’s a lot more positive news to report on. Details to come soon.


ASMAC Board Vice President


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