Jack White, U2, Pearl Jam, Beck, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Trent Reznor have joined Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and over 150 more artists in signing a petition that calls for a reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The DMCA was initially enacted in 1998, well before lawmakers could take YouTube’s impact on the music industry into account. Because of that, the artists argue that “sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment” is needed.
“Dear Congress: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is broken and no longer works for creators,” states the petition, which is currently running as an ad in Washington, D.C.-area publications. Other signers of the petition include the individual members of the Eagles including Glenn Frey’s estate, Billy Joel, Elton John, Sting, Queens of the Stone Age, David Byrne, Yoko Ono Lennon, Elvis Costello and many more.
“As songwriters and artists who are a vital contributing force to the U.S. and to American exports around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living,” the petition said. “The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music. Aspiring creators shouldn’t have to decide between making music and making a living. Please protect them.”
The petition adds that the DMCA “has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish.”
Prior to signing the petition, Reznor was vocal about YouTube’s “very disingenuous” business model. “It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big,” Reznor, in the capacity of chief creative officer of Apple Music, said. “I think any free-tiered service is not fair. It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly. We’re trying to build a platform that provides an alternative – where you can get paid and an artist can control where their [content] goes.”
Metallica manager Peter Mensch called YouTube the “devil” and bashed their ad-based business model in an interview with the BBC.