In Congress’ critical, must-pass Music Modernization Act (MMA), it appears that Amazon is doing its Same Old Song and Dance.
With the disco ball rolling, these company executives aren’t doing the Macarena. Instead, in one provision within this otherwise sound bill, they appear intent on playing our representatives in Washington, D.C., like a fiddle.
To ensure songwriters receive the payments they deserve in a timely fashion, the MMA establishes a licensing collective and coordinator to efficiently, systematically collect payments from digital music services and dole them out to the corresponding publishers and artists.
A much-needed service, to be sure. But who will get run the digital licensing coordination efforts on behalf of the government?
Amazon and its friends, apparently.
Language within the bill mandates that the U.S. Copyright Office select an entity that is endorsed by the largest market share forces within the industry. I wonder who that might be? The rich and powerful would win while everyone else would be restricted from competing.
Naturally, this sounds like music to Amazon’s ears. That’s ostensibly why Amazon, as well as the Digital Media Association that represents the company, are so enthused.
If passed, this monopoly provision within the bill wouldn’t be anything new for the $800-billion company. From expensive no-bid defense contracts to billions of dollars in building incentives to subsidies from the United States Postal Service, they have a history of using or trying to use the force of government to increase their power and market dominance. All of which likely hurts, not helps, American families.
As Ross Marchand from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance wrote, “A recent study by Troy University scholars demonstrates that ‘economic development’ aid rarely delivers the goods of higher state growth and economic freedom. The results underscore the need for state taxpayers to remain vigilant against shortsighted attempts to lure in industry.”
While the MMA in current form has already coasted through the House of Representatives, the Senate has yet to vote on the bill. If they do not strike the anti-innovation language from the legislation, however, there’s a chance that songwriters and music publishers will be left with no bill at all.
One source close to President Donald Trump said that the president is calling this “The Amazon Bill” and said that “there is no chance he will sign that bill that passed the House.” But the under-represented in the music industry shouldn’t worry. Thanks to the leadership of some Members of Congress, he will likely not even have to think about vetoing the bill.
Recognizing the scope of the problem, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz have proposed forcing the new music collectives to face the standard market pressures of supply and demand. They want the best man or men to be tasked with the job, not just the ones with the best lobbyists.
Ultimately, such an amendment will pay dividends not only for long-term innovation, but also for the bottom lines of songwriters and music publishers, which deserve to work with the most talented, fair, and equitable company or an assortment of institutions that exist today.
Because Cornyn and Cruz understand the importance of advancing the Music Modernization Act before November, they did not stall the legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, based on their past statements, it seems clear that they will seize on the opportunity to perfect the legislation when it comes forward to the Senate Floor.
Or at least one can hope because failure to make the proper free market changes would result in a failure to pass this long-time-coming bill into law at all. And that’s the last thing that right-leaning political forces should want.
Rick Amato, is a former financial adviser for Merrill Lynch and founded the Amato Wealth Management Group. He is currently the host of Politics And Profits with Rick Amato, and co-hosts Jobenomics America TV. Find out more at amatotalk.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.