The evolution of digital music distribution has created a lot more problems than many like to admit despite some inherent benefits. Mass access to the Internet may have opened new doors of revenue for artistes via streaming royalties and digital sales, but in the same vein artistes have been victims of copyright leakages via free downloads and user uploaded content for public access that the artiste is more or less short changed for.
In a series of latest developments primed towards creating tighter controls for creative material and ensuring only artistes benefit, a petition advocating for the reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act enacted in 1998 has been kick started.
The DMCA was created to regulate the distribution of copyrighted work, however the act does not cover the re-distribution of content on platforms like YouTube where users are only expected to comply with take down notices if they are detected. And considering the sheer volume of content on YouTube, it’s safe to say take down notices are not only ineffective, they are also virtually impossible to track.
According to the petition backed by 180 musicians and songwriters, including Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, U2, Vince Staples, Kings of Leon, Carole King, as well as 19 companies and 3 major labels, this loophole in the DMCA act “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.”
For Nigerian artistes who already deal with an invasive level of physical piracy, illegal downloads are not the biggest problems they’ve had to deal with yet. But music streaming is the new black and there will be immense benefits for everyone if YouTube starts shutting out independent uploads of copyrighted content.
From base level stand point, user experiences with YouTube search results will be less cumbersome to sift through for fans and audiences. But mostly artistes will now be able to collect all of their important numbers and statistics in one place without multiple fan channels with varying figures who have uploaded a similar content.
Subsequently royalty earnings from YouTube views and adverts will increase and artistes can still find a reason to smile to the bank, even though Alaba boys stay ripping them off on the streets.
This may not be a permanent fix for the incessant copyright leakages on the Internet, but it is a great starting point.