Apple Claims To Be Leading Way On Song Metadata To “Ensure Songwriters Get Paid”

ImagesOften known for it’s progressive behavior in the tech industry, Apple is taking steps to encourage artists to get their music’s copyright registered with one of several relevant publishing organizations although one organization, the U.S. Copyright Office is conspicuously absent from this list.


Guest post by Chris Castle of Music Technology Policy


This is great news from Apple, who is leading the way as usual….with one exception.  Apple says to “make sure the ownership of your song is registered with a publisher, and that they have registered ownership with relevant publishing agencies such as ASCAP, BMI, PRS, Harry Fox and Music Reports.”  That obviously is misleading.

First of all, we can’t be that surprised that Apple has this impression because as we all know, it is frequently lost on HFA and MRI that neither of them is in fact the government.  However, given that Amazon, Google, Pandora and others are sending millions upon millions of NOIs to the Copyright Office claiming to have no idea who owns songs by very well known artists, it should make it obvious that the one place you need to “register” your song copyright ownership is with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Why Apple doesn’t mention this at all is a bit odd, but it’s an easy mistake to overlook.  We know that Google is already refusing to take so much as an address update from publishers unless it comes from the “Public Catalog” of the Copyright Office–which is essentially not possible to update unless you have already registered a copyright or recorded a document.

Plus Apple omits companies like Crunch Digital, Global Music Rights and SESAC from the list for reasons that are unclear.  Even though SESAC owns the Harry Fox Agency, if you’re going to mention ASCAP and BMI, why wouldn’t you also mention SESAC and GMR?

It’s also misleading to state that you have to have “the ownership of your songs…register[ed] with a publisher” which may happen frequently, but is not required to enjoy ownership rights.  Many artist/writer publishers are simply dbas of the artist/writer anyway that allows the artist/writer to cash a check for the publisher’s share of revenue from a PRO.

So great that Apple is enabling the delivery of song ownership information, great that they’re licensing lyrics, but not so great that even Apple didn’t get it quite right.

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