Five Things Congress Could Do for Music Creators That Wouldn’t Cost the Taxpayer a Dime Part 2: Update the Compulsory License for Songwriters

Compulsory license or not. That’s the question.

Music Technology Policy

[This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post]

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is holding hearings on a potential revision to the Copyright Act. One area he might want to take a fresh look at is whether we still need a compulsory license to protect the public from the antitrust ambitions…of songwriters.

A ”compulsory license” is a government-mandated requirement that someone license property on terms set by the government. Very often, the government also mandates the price that the property owner may charge for the rights she is forced to license. Americans enjoy protection under the ”takings clause” of the 5th Amendment of the Constitution, so these compulsory licenses are fairly rare. The Constitution also requires that ”takings” require ”just compensation” to the property owner.

Did you know that the Congress established a compulsory license for songs? Yes, they did in 1909. This compulsory license is often…

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