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In Debate Over Compensation, Songwriter Equity Act Is Off-Key | Commentary

Finally, and perhaps most important, the article doesn’t mention the fact that “Beautiful” was recorded in 2002 by Christina Aguilera. And in the 10-year history prior to 2012 the song had sold more than 3 million copies, been covered on at least 10 different occasions, and performed on a countless number of televised award shows, talent competitions, charitable events and live concerts. In short, it fails to acknowledge that the song had generated millions of dollars in performance and mechanical royalties for Perry, her music publishers and other business partners; and the royalties paid 10 years later, in 2012, were in addition to the millions previously paid.

When evaluated in its entirety, the financial success of “Beautiful” demonstrates why the debate over songwriting compensation shouldn’t be driven by one-sided accounts that serve individual interests. When trying to determine whether existing copyright law properly incentivizes the creation and distribution of new music, policymakers must be mindful of the important and delicate balance that copyright is intended to strike, and look to be informed by all available information.

Regrettably, the Songwriter Equity Act fails in this regard.

Gregory Alan Barnes is general counsel for the Digital Media Association.

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