UGA Artists’ Rights Symposium III: The Future of Authorship and the Copyright Office

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

November 14-15th 2022
Stelling Family Study
200 Moore-Rooker Hall
600 Lumpkin Ave
Athens GA 30602
Contact Director David Barbe dbarbe <AT>
Contact David Lowery dlowery < AT >
Limited seating available to public. To reserve contact Allison Gilmore Allison<dot>gilmore<AT>

UGA Artists’ Rights Symposium III: The Future of Authorship and the US Copyright Office.

The US Copyright Office wields enormous influence over the digital market for music. Via the Copyright Royalty Board the office directly sets royalties for songwriters and performers in the digital realm. The CRB also has great influence over the rule making process. The symposium will examine ways that songwriters and performers might have more input into royalty and rule making proceedings.

The Copyright Office also oversees the operations of The Music Licensing Collective which administers streaming mechanical royalties for songwriters and publishers. The MLC recently received “unmatched” songwriter royalty payments from streaming services in excess of $400 million dollars. This can largely be attributed to the failure of streaming services to collect proper songwriting metadata associated with each recording. In effect the administrative burden of matching recordings to songwriters and publishers has been shifted to the public. The symposium will examine possible solutions and best practices moving forward.

The Copyright Office administers the copyright laws that govern creation and use of books, music, film, and other media, including provisions that regulate digital copying and lending by libraries and archives which in turn affect the marketplace for e-books. It conducts studies on numerous aspects of copyright in the digital age that guide legislative decisions by Congress.

While the general public has some awareness of the low royalties paid to songwriters for streaming and other digital uses, they are generally unaware that authors of books (including sheet music and music tab) face similar problems. Specifically libraries and institutions like The Internet Archive, have recently attempted to take narrow copyright exceptions in copyright law and turn them into a broad license to copy and lend author’s books without permission or payment.

Case in point, a few months into the COVID pandemic The Internet Archive announced a so-called “National Emergency Library.” They Internet Archive unilaterally made books digitally available to the public without the permission of authors, nor payment of lending fees to authors that are common in the rest of the world. Authors quickly voiced outrage and publishers sued for copyright infringement (case pending). Media coverage of the dispute has proven woefully inadequate with major media outlets portraying this a some sort of technical dispute over “waitlists.” The symposium hopes to educate the public on dispute and explore whether The Copyright Office should take a more active role in the regulation of libraries.

The symposium is oriented towards students and faculty at UGA, but a limited number of seats have been made available to the public. Please email Allison Gilmore at the Music Business Certificate Program Office to reserve a seat (allison.gilmore<AT>

Nov 14th

Cash Bar and Snacks at The 40 Watt Club

6:30 to 8:30PM

Join us for snacks and a cash bar at the legendary 40 watt club. Panelists and attendees will have a chance to mingle with Terry College Music Business Certificate students, staff and faculty. There are also usually a few interesting local music celebrities that attend. The 40 Watt Club is located at 285 W. Washington St. Athens GA 30601.

Nov 15th

Coffee and Pastries, Getting Acquainted.

8:30 AM – 9:00 AM

Welcome /Opening remarks

David Barbe, Dean, David Lowery and TBD

9:00 AM- 9:30 AM

Legislative Overview

Mala Sharma delivers overview on Georgia legislative agenda on music.

Panel 1 Managing a longer Table at the Copyright Royalty Board

9:35 to 10:50 AM
Grass roots response to the “frozen mechanicals” crisis demonstrates that songwriters want to be directly involved in rulemakings that affect their future.  Unfortunately, from the perspective of the songwriter the structure of the Copyright Royalty Board proceedings favor the rich and powerful few who have done a poor job of managing this responsibility and privilege.
What structural changes can be made to the Copyright Royalty Board that allow for a longer table with more people at that table?

David Lowery Moderator
Rick Carnes, Songwriters Guild of America
David Turner, SoundCloud, Penny Fractions

Panel 2 The Future of Compulsory Rates

11:10- 12:45 PM

The current mechanical royalty systems literally treat all songs the same and fail to give successful songwriters a chance to capture the value of their contribution.  Should songwriters be able to charge “double stat” like session musicians can charge “double scale”?

Conversely in most markets, niche or specialized products fetch higher prices than mass market products as they have fewer transactions to spread the fixed cost across. Shouldn’t niche composers laboring away in genres like Jazz or Sludge Doom Metal have the option to charge more per stream? And wouldn’t diehard fans in these genres be willing to pay?
Independent record companies have proposed that U.S. mechanical royalties for physical be based on a revenue share of prices set by the label rather than the current penny rate.  What implications does this raise for controlled composition rates?
Streaming mechanical rate setting is a prime example of how the rich get richer due to the high transaction costs of dozens of lawyers from the largest companies in commercial history ganging up on songwriters to dictate the value of a song.  Should they be allowed to extend their market dominance and elite merger tactics over songwriters who are forced to accept a compulsory license?


Helienne Lindvall, President, ECSA (Bio)
Chris Castle Moderator (Bio)
Richard Burgess, A2IM (Bio)
Crispin Hunt, Songwriter (Bio)

Lunch and Fireside Chat with Merck Mercuriadis

12:45- 2:00 PM

Merck Mercuriadis is founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited ($SONG:LSE 1.45 Billion USD Market Cap) and its Investment Adviser, and Hipgnosis Song Management. He is also the CEO and managing partner of Hipgnosis Songs Ltd, an artist management firm label based in London and Los Angeles.

Mr Mercuriadis is the manager of music legend Nile Rodgers and the former manager of several notable award-winning artists and Songwriters including Sir Elton John, Guns’N’Roses, Iron Maiden, Morrissey, Pet Shop Boys, Mary J. Blige, Jane’s Addiction, Diane Warren and Justin Tranter to name a few. Additionally, Mercuriadis is notable for serving from 1986-2007 as Director and CEO of The Sanctuary Group PLC, a major management company, an independent record label, a merchandise company (Bravado) and a booking agency (Helter Skelter now CAA UK) based in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Libraries vs Authors: The Internet Archive’s “National Emergency Library” and Fair Renumeration for Authors.

2:20 PM- 3:35 PM

In the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Internet Archive recently announced the launch of a “National Emergency Library.” Specifically, they announced they would “suspend waitlists”  essentially allowing multiple copies of a book to be electronically lent at the same time. In a statement on their website Brewster Kahle Digital Librarian at the Internet Archive stated:

“The library system, because of our national emergency, is coming to aid those that are forced to learn at home. This was our dream for the original Internet coming to life: the Library at everyone’s fingertips.”

Authors and publishers were quick to push back noting that many of these books were already freely available through licensed e-lending libraries or for a fee on commercial websites. Many questioned whether this was, in fact, an opportunistic attempt to roll back copyright protection for authors.  The panel will attempt to answer some of the following questions.


Janice Pilch.  Rutgers University (She/Her)
John Degen:  Writer, Head of Writers Union Canada.

Metadata, Matching and Claiming at the MLC

3:55 – 5:10 PM

Metadata, Matching and Claiming.

Rights managers detail their experiences with the MLC’s Matching and Claiming tools, including metadata required, limitations and strengths of the tools, methods to streamline the overall process, and suggestions for improvements to the user experience.


Moderator Abby North, North Music Group <Bio>
Erin McAnally <Bio>
Leslie Allison, SoundExchange < Bio>
Melanie Santa Rosa, Spirit Music <Bio>

Travel Suggestions

We assume that if you are flying you will fly to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport or ATL. ATL is the busiest (by passengers) airport in the world. As a result there are an enormous number of flight options. That said ATL to Athens can be a little bit tricky.

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 Springhill Suites Downtown as your Athens sub-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 in 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.


Panelist Hotel

Springhill Suites Downtown University
220 Hull St
Athens GA 30605

If you are a panelist you will receive information on your reservations from the organizers.

Other Hotels

Hilton Garden
390 E Washington St, Athens, GA 30601
(706) 353-6800

Hyatt Place
412 N Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601
(706) 425-1800

166 N Finley St, Athens, GA 30601
(706) 369-7000

Hotel Indigo

500 College Ave, Athens, GA 30601
(706) 546-0430


6-8PM November 14.

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 loading dock 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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