That Music Rights Shell Game


With the release of iOS 10, song lyrics are now displayed within Apple Music. Apple have received incredibly positive feedback from members, who can now follow along during playback of their favourite songs. To ensure songwriters are paid Apple is obtaining the licenses required to display lyrics in Apple Music. Apple rely on accurate songwriter and composer data to efficiently obtain these licenses.



Apple says to “make sure the ownership of your song is registered with a publisher, and that they have registered ownership with relevant publishing agencies such as ASCAP, BMI, PRS, Harry Fox and Music Reports.” That obviously is misleading.

First of all, we can’t be that surprised that Apple has this impression because as we all know, it is frequently lost on HFA and MRI that neither of them is in fact the government. However, given that Amazon, Google, Pandora and others are sending millions upon millions of NOIs to the Copyright Office claiming to have no idea who owns songs by very well known artists, it should make it obvious that the one place you need to “register” your song copyright ownership is with the U.S. Copyright Office.

It’s also misleading to state that you have to have “the ownership of your songs…register[ed] with a publisher” which may happen frequently, but is not required to enjoy ownership rights.

That unified music metadata database (Blockchain, etc) that keeps getting bandied about can’t come soon enough.

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