Amazon is at the forefront of a well-funded, powerful, Silicon Valley-led push to force the federal government to nationalize the music industry, thereby creating a system where the government props up certain companies — such as Amazon — to be beneficiaries of and have control over, while also profiting from, music production.
The so-called “Music Modernization Act,” which already passed the House and is working its way through the Senate right now, would create, by government force if passed and signed into law, a “collective” that pays out to various parties. The major problem with said “collective” is that it would be run by the government, specifically the U.S. Copyright Office, making it prone to cronyism, corruption, and mishandling of intellectual property.
“The so-called ‘middle-ground’ Music Modernization Act will destroy the private sectors’ progress by creating a federal mechanical license ‘collective’ which would collect payments and distribute them to the correct parties,” Bryan Crabtree, a pro-Trump author, wrote in NewsMax:
This collective would be funded by a new fee on music services and housed at the U.S. Copyright Office. The bill is a solution in search of a problem. The creation of the collective threatens to pull the rug out of the marketplace, killing competition and establishing yet another monopoly in the music industry. Likely, the government would select just one or perhaps two services as their policeman on the beat. The most politically astute are the ones that often walk away with the deal, and by no means should anyone consider The Music Modernization Act to be an exception.
The bill passed the House with bipartisan support and made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee already. A messy floor battle filled with amendments designed to further foster competition — and not prop up just a handful of players like Amazon and other Silicon Valley powerhouses — is likely, sources with direct knowledge of the matter say. What’s more, if the bill does end up passing the Senate, it would need to be signed by President Donald Trump to be approved.
Sources close to the White House and those in regular contact with President Trump and his closest associates say the president has a serious problem doing anything to help Amazon — especially creating a special government board that would allow the company billionaire Jeff Bezos owns to profit, with government assistance and control, from music royalties.
“The president was irate when he heard about this,” a source close to the president said. “He’s calling it ‘The Amazon Bill.’ There is no chance he will sign that bill that passed the House.”
The major Silicon Valley powers behind this, per a document released by House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) listing supporters of the nationalization bill, include Amazon and the Amazon-led Digital Media Association (DiMA). Amazon is owned and operated by billionaire Jeff Bezos, who also owns the anti-Donald Trump Washington Post.
Amazon is so supportive of the bill, the company is actually listed twice on Goodlatte’s document.
DiMA, the powerful interest group of which Amazon is at the forefront, according to its website also represents other powerful Silicon Valley companies and brands like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Napster, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube.
Supporters of President Trump in the grassroots are lining up against the bill, even after it passed the House and faces potential Senate passage.
“Without a doubt, music licensing is a complex, arcane, and often challenging issue for a layman to understand,” San Diego-based pro-Trump radio host Andrea Kaye wrote in American Thinker in a piece against the bill:
The intricacy of the issue benefits the corporate stakeholders, who use their lobbyists and advisers to shape legislation in their favor by working with congressional staff who often have little expertise in these complex issues. That appears to be the sleight of hand used in the Music Modernization Bill, and someone is going to profit handsomely if the bill is not amended by the Senate. Rather than foster the growing marketplace addressing this complex issue, the bill imposes a Washington top-down approach that ostensibly benefits crony lobbyists and corporations while short-circuiting creative innovators. It is a classic example of a backroom swamp deal that robs Peter to pay Paul. In this case, Peter is the American people, and Paul is the biggest crony actors in the music industry.
A group of conservative organizations, in a late July letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), raise serious concerns with the “collective” government centralization payment portion of the MMA.
“We, the undersigned organizations dedicated to limited government and constitutional principles, are writing to voice concern about a provision in the Music Modernization Act (MMA) that was recently marked-up by the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the conservative groups, including Campaign For Liberty, Less Government, Citizen Outreach, Capitol Allies, the Institute for Liberty, and the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, wrote. “The MMA intends to ensure songwriters are compensated by digital music services in a timely manner for uses of their works. We support this overall objective. However, we are concerned that the creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) would short-circuit a spirited marketplace, undercut competition, and grant unprecedented power to a handful of decision-makers.”
They added that the government-run “collective” that the legislation would create is a “continuation of the same interventionist approach that has proven inadequate.”
“Usefully, it calls for the creation of a comprehensive database of music copyright holders, though it lacks funding for the project,” the conservative groups wrote to Grassley. “Unfortunately, it also links the database with the functionality of a collective rights organization empowered to grant licenses, receive royalties, and remit payments to rights holders. In doing so, the MLC repeats past mistakes by relying on compulsory licensing and regulated rates, instead of encouraging direct negotiation and other forms of market competition.”