ASCAP Launches 'Bill of Rights' for Songwriters, Composers

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ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) officially launched a "Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers" to remind the public, members of the music industry and U.S. legislators of the central role and rights of those who conceive and create music.

This awareness-building initiative centers around 10 core principles, including the right to be compensated for the use of creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate, and the right to license works and control the ways in which they are used.

ASCAP states that these rights, all of which are already inherent in the act of music creation and protected by U.S. copyright law, are increasingly under threat as competing interests argue over the future of the business of music, and as growing numbers of individuals bypass payment altogether to illegally share music online.

"Given the many issues surrounding the music industry today, it can be all too easy to overlook the source of it all: individual songwriters, lyricists and composers," says Marilyn Bergman, ASCAP president and chairman, and an Academy Award-winning lyricist. "That is why ASCAP has launched this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers. Our goal is to remind lawmakers, the general public and music creators themselves of the rights that are inherent in their art. We simply cannot allow the original source of all music to be lost in the shuffle."

The 'Bill of Rights' debuted during ASCAP's "I Create Music" Week at the 25th annual Pop Music Awards held on April 9, and was also introduced to attendees of the third annual ASCAP "I Create Music" Expo (April 10-12). In only a few days, more than 500 signatures were collected including those of Lionel Richie, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, Justin Timberlake, Desmond Child, Jackson Browne,Steve Miller, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Chamillionaire, Keri Hilson, Johnta Austin and John Rzeznik.

These 500-plus signatures served as the kick-off to a grassroots campaign that, over the next few months, will collect signatures and support from both established and aspiring songwriters, lyricists and composers from all genres of musical compositions. Those who wish to add their support to the Bill can sign it electronically at www.ascap.com/rights.

As part of this initiative, ASCAP also wrote a perspective piece on the relevance and importance of music copyright protection, titled "Music Copyright in the Digital Age: A Position Paper," which may be
viewed and downloaded here.

"The signatures that we collect on this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers will be shared with key legislators in Washington, as well as numerous other leaders both inside and outside the music industry," says ASCAP CEO John A. LoFrumento. "Now is the time to ensure that everyone who has a stake in determining the future of music, both as an art and as an industry, recognizes the importance of protecting creators' rights."

To view the full text of ASCAP's Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers, click here.