Who You Gonna Call? Artists’ Rights Symposium Jan 22-23 2018

Artists Rights Symposium
Music Business Certificate Program
Terry College of Business
University of Georgia
Athens GA 30602

Jan 22-23
Stelling Family Study
200 Moore-Rooker Hall
600 Lumpkin Ave
Athens GA 30602
Contact David Barbe dbarbe@uga.edu
David Lowery dlowery@uga.edu




An examination of resources available to music creators beyond copyright infringement lawsuits

The rapid change in the digital music industry has left music creators and music industry rights holders confused, unaware of the extent of their intellectual property rights, and often unable to enforce those rights. Traditionally music creators and rights holders have resorted to federal copyright infringement lawsuits to rectify these problems.  Unfortunately, these lawsuits are expensive, time consuming and inefficient.  The purpose of this symposium is to examine other tools that are available to enforce music creators’ rights beyond federal copyright infringement lawsuits.

For the inaugural symposium, the organizers have five main panels and areas of discussion:

What Would Satchmo Do?  Cultural Diplomacy and Importance of Artists’ Rights

Jay Raman, Director Cultural Programs, US Department of State
Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation
Chris Castle, Attorney, Editor MusicTechPolicy
David Lowery,
Artist Advocate, Music Business Certificate Program Terry College UGA
9:30 to 10:30 AM 

In 1965, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong embarked on a historic tour behind the Iron Curtain on behalf of the U.S. State Department, following in the footsteps of other jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck.  The program was so popular that the New Yorker ran a cartoon showing a State Department meeting: “This is a diplomatic mission of the utmost delicacy.  The question is, who’s the best man for it — John Foster Dulles or Satchmo?”  Although times have changed (along with musical tastes) the State Department is still sending American artists overseas as cultural ambassadors through programs like Arts Envoy, American Music Abroad, and the hip-hop focused Next Level.

Back in the 1960s none of Armstrong’s records were available in the Soviet Bloc – at least not legally.  But when today’s arts ambassadors travel overseas, in many cases their recordings are available locally through pirate sites and counterfeit CDs.  U.S. cultural envoys are often called upon to talk about human rights and freedom of speech, but should they also talk about the rights of artists to protect their intellectual property?  Do U.S. artists have standing to advance intellectual property rights overseas, and how do they square this with their desire to share their work in countries that limit the availability of cultural products?  How can U.S. artists and diplomats work together to protect the rights of all content creators?

Does the Antitrust Status Quo Harm Artists?

Sandra Aistars, Senior Scholar and Director of Copyright Research and Policy, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Scalia School of Law, George Mason University
Kevin Erickson, Future of Music Coalition
Jonathan Taplin, Author, Manager, Producer, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab Director Emeritus
Joseph Miller, UGA Law School, Former Department of Justice Antitrust Department
10:45- 11:45 AM

Songwriters are generally unaware that most licensing of public performance rights is conducted under supervision of the DOJ antitrust department and federal courts. This supervision is commonly referred to as “The consent decrees.”   The very nature of songwriter performing rights organizations (collectively setting prices) comes into conflict with rules designed to prevent producers from fixing prices. The consent decrees were initially set up more than half a century ago when media ownership landscape in the US was very different. Specifically, ownership of radio and television stations was highly fragmented, and songwriter performing rights organizations possessed significant leverage.

With the advent of the digital age the landscape is very different. Some observers have noted that the internet “wants only one of everything” (Buskirk, 2012). Indeed Google (YouTube), Apple, Amazon and Spotify each enjoy market dominance in their respective sectors. Songwriters argue they are at a significant disadvantage in negotiating fair market rates under the consent decrees when those on the other side have escaped serious antitrust scrutiny. Songwriters are especially agitated because the DOJ recently tightened regulations on songwriters by suggesting the consent decrees require songwriter organizations issue “100% licenses” even when songwriters outside their organization are involved. This appears to be a departure from decades of fractional licensing under the consent decrees and imposes an additional administrative burden on songwriters.

From a macro perspective, antitrust enforcement exhibits a disturbing trend. The last several decades have seen US antitrust law shift from discouraging market dominance by large companies to tolerating market dominance as long as the consumer does not suffer higher prices. In view of the organizers of this conference this status quo is shortsighted and does not address the full picture, especially for music. The organizers of the conference ask these questions: Does this antitrust status quo still produce pro-competitive results? Or does it instead result in powerful monopsonies that drive down prices to song producers, putting small publishers and niche songwriters out of business or forcing them to assign their catalogues to large publishers? Certainly, in the last few years we see evidence of increased concentration of song catalogues.

There is also anecdotal evidence that popular music is becoming more uniform as songwriters have become risk averse. See 6 #1 Country Songs Played at Once and Measuring the Evolution of Contemporary Western Popular Music (Serrà, Corral, Boguñá, Haro, & Arcos, 2012). It’s not clear these trends are related, but neither of these developments would seem to be in the long-term interest of songwriter, consumers or the services that distribute music.

Lunch Keynote From Jonathan Taplin:  How Artists Can Fight the Internet Monopolies 

11:45- 1:00 PM

Jonathan Taplin’s areas of specialization are in International Communication Management and the field of digital media entertainment. He is director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab based at USC. Taplin began his entertainment career in 1969 as Tour Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese’s first feature film, Mean Streets, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin produced 26 hours of television documentaries (including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS) and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz, Until The End of the World, Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival seven times.  Taplin’s latest book Move Fast and Break Things is a stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age.

Stay tuned for more information on this keynote..

Who you Gonna Call? Law Enforcement and Artists’ Rights

Amanda Williams, Songwriter, Songwriter Advocate
Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, Police IP Crime Unit City of London Police
Carlos Linares, VP Anti-Piracy Legal Affairs RIAA
Ellen Seidler, Filmmaker, Writer, Producer, Digital Citizens Alliance
Kevin Phelan,  Senior Supervisory Agent, FBI Palo Alto CA

1:15- 2:15 PM

Chris Castle of MusicTech Policy once remarked, “If someone is stealing your musical gear, it’s clear you call the police. If someone is stealing your musical catalogue, who do you call?” Most of the time the answer is “call a lawyer and file a federal copyright infringement lawsuit.” However, this presents several problems. An artist would have to track down the culprit, not an easy task when operators of website may be located in foreign countries or ownership masked by shell registrations. Second, a plaintiff must have hundreds of thousands of dollars to proceed in federal court. This is not a practical solution for most independent songwriters and musicians.

There are however other actions that artists may initiate. The federal government has several units that deal with criminal intellectual property theft that can often help. In addition, it’s entirely possible that these websites may be committing other crimes such as fraud, tax evasion and/or money laundering. Other federal units may be activated to investigate these suspicions. Similarly, these crimes may also violate state laws. Many states also have their own copyright laws, rights of publicity, false advertising and consumer protection statutes that may come into play. Some of the most surprising and effective anti-piracy law enforcement operations in recent years have come from the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Is it possible an artist in the US could one day call the local police?

An Overview of the State of Grassroots Artists’ Rights Advocacy

Mala Sharma, Georgia Music Partners
Blake Morgan, Performer, #IRespectMusic
Miranda Mullholland, Performer, Advocate, Roaring Girl Records
Doria Roberts, Performer, Activist
Rick Carnes, Songwriter, Songwriters Guild
2:30-3:30 PM

In addition to the organization of the grass roots advocacy groups, the panelists will discuss; messaging; effective use of social media; consumer education; constructively interacting with federal, state and local government representatives; lobbying for legislation; and discouraging companies from doing business with royalty deadbeats. Grassroots artists organizations were able to defeat the so-called Internet Radio Fairness Act as well as force major online advertising networks to stop doing business with pirate sites. Panelist may also discuss lessons learned from these successful campaigns and map them onto current problems.

State And Federal Legislation

Rep. Doug Collins, US House of Representatives
Rep. Spencer Frye, Georgia House of Representatives
David Lowery,  Artist, Lecturer, Terry College Music Business Certificate Program, University of Georgia

4:00-5:00 PM

David Lowery leads an informal discussion on potential state and federal legislation to strengthen the rights of artists. Likely to be discussed is The Music Modernization Act recently introduced to the US House by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Georgia State Representative Spencer Frye also brings his considerable expertise and background advocating on behalf of Georgia musicians at the state level.


Confirmed Guests

Jonathan Taplin, author, film producer and Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at University of Southern California has agreed to keynote the discussion and help moderate panels. Sandra Aistars directs the Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia School of Law and has also agreed moderate a panel on antitrust issues.  Sandra will be joined by Melvin Gibbs of Content Creators Coalition, Kevin Erickson, Future of Music Coalition, Joe Miller from UGA Law school.  Blake Morgan who started the #IRespectMusic campaign along with Rick Carnes of Songwriters Guild of America will discuss grassroots advocacy on a panel moderated by Mala Sharma former director of Georgia Music Partners. Noted songwriter Rick Carnes, and songwriter/performer Doria Roberts have also agreed to participate. Jay Raman, Director of Cultural Programs Division, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State has agreed to discuss Artists’ Rights and cultural diplomacy with Chris Castle and Dean Cheng. In addition Kevin Phelan, Senior Supervisory Resident Agent at Federal Bureau of Investigation Palo Alto will moderate a panel on piracy and intellectual property theft. Joining him on this panel will be independent filmmaker Ellen Seidler,  Carlos Linares from the RIAA anti-piracy unit, Songwriter Amanda Williams and Peter Ratcliffe Detective Superintendent Economic Crime Unit City of London Police.  US Representative and GOP Conference Vice Chair Doug Collins and Georgia State Representative Spencer Frye are tentatively scheduled to speak on the prospects for state and federal legislation that would address issues facing songwriters and performers.

The Symposium will take place over two days Jan 22-23, 2018. Jan 22th will be an evening reception 7-9pm, January 23 will consist of 4 discussion sessions beginning at 9:30 AM. The symposium will take place at the Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602

Schedule Jan 22

Reception 7-9pm
40 Watt Club
285 W. Washington St
Athens GA 30601

A few blocks walk from conference hotels and University of Georgia.

Food and non-alcohol beverages
Cash bar for grown-up beverages

Schedule Jan 23

A200 Stelling Family Study
Moore-Rooker Hall
Terry College of Business
University of Georgia
610 South Lumpkin Street
Athens, GA 30602

(See map. The conference is in a series of interconnected buildings. Depending on where you are coming from access maybe easier from Amos or Correll hall).

Tentative Schedule and Panels

8:15- 9:15 AM            Conference Registration and light breakfast

9:15- 9:25 AM            Brief opening remarks David Barbe and David Lowery

9:30- 10:30 AM          Panel: What Would Satchmo Do? Cultural Diplomacy and Artists’ Rights

10:45- 11:45 AM        Panel: Does the Antitrust Status Quo Harm Artists?

11:45- 1:00 PM           Lunch and Keynote by Jonathan Taplin: How Artists Can Fight The Internet Monopolies

1:15- 2:15 PM             Panel: Who you Gonna Call? Law Enforcement and Artists’ Rights

2:30-3:30 PM             Panel: An Overview of the State of Grassroots Artists’ Rights Advocacy

4:00-5:00  PM            Panel: State and Federal Legislation.

Travel to and from Atlanta Airport

ATL to Athens can be a little bit of a bear.

If you want your own car, it’s pretty easy to hop on the train that goes to the rental car center (not MARTA train, but inter terminal train).  I would recommend using your premium rental car membership program as lines can often get long. If you arrive at ATL between 3-6:30PM I recommend taking I-285E to I-20E to Conyers GA, 138 to Monroe GA, 78 to Athens GA. Otherwise Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze are pretty accurate.

Most people who travel regularly from ATL to Athens book the Groome Shuttle Athens.   Choose the Downtown Holiday Inn Athens (not Holiday Inn Express) as your destination. Ask anyone working at the airport where to get Groome shuttle buses. There are many different Groome shuttles. Don’t end up at Fort Benning or Chattanooga!  It’s a 75-90 minute trip.  You must book in advance.   You don’t really need a car once you get to Athens.



Closest Hotel

Holiday Inn Athens-University Area
197 East Broad St
Athens, Georgia

Other Hotels


40 Watt Club
285 W Washington St
Athens GA


Stelling Family Study
200 Moore-Rooker Hall
600 Lumpkin Ave
Athens GA 30602

Directions: This is a little confusing so pay attention!  The new Terry College campus consists of four connected buildings around an open quad. It also slopes downhill so if you enter the complex from Lumpkin street you will be on the second floor. If you enter from Hull street, going thru the arch puts you on the 1st floor. Going up the steps from Hull Street puts you on the 2nd floor. Moore-Rooker Hall is the west side of the complex (adjacent to Hull Street.) The Stelling Family Study is only accessible from the outdoor balcony/walkway on the 2nd floor. Finally the terrain is hilly, so you might consider the shoes you wear.

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